Egypt will start to produce its first 2 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus vaccine in June, Health Minister Hala Zayed said Sunday, under agreements Egypt signed with China last month.
This is part of 40 million Sinovav doses scheduled to be produced in the first year according to the agreements, Zayed told a press conference at the Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA).
The minister said Egypt will receive the first shipment of the Sinovac material required for producing the final product on 18 May.
The local end-product will then undergo assessment by the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) for few weeks before they become available.
VACSERA and the Sinovac biopharmaceutical company signed two agreements on 21 April to manufacture the vaccine so as to cover the country’s vaccination needs and also allow Egypt to export excess doses to Africa.
As per the first agreement, Sinovac will provide VACSERA the know-how and technical assistance for manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine in Egypt.
The second agreement stipulates that Sinovac gives VACSERA the license to manufacture, re-pack and pack the COVID-19 vaccine in VACSERA facilities.
The vaccine will be produced in the VACSERA factories.
Zayed said the locally produced Sinovac vaccine will be dubbed Sinovac-Vacsera and will have the “Made in Egypt” label.
She noted that it will later be fully manufactured in Egypt after implementing the agreement on transferring the manufacturing technology.
Like the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, Sinovac is an inactivated virus vaccine, Zayed said.
Egypt received its first Sinopharm shipment late last year consisting of 50,000 doses. This was the first vaccine Egypt could obtain before it received the AstraZeneca late in January.
Egypt has so far received hundreds of thousands of both vaccines and is scheduled to receive millions of doses through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) and Sinopharm over the coming weeks.
Zayed said Egypt expects a large shipment of doses on Monday but did not reveal the vaccine name.
This comes few days after Zayed said Egypt will receive a total of 4.9 million doses this month, including 500,000 Sinopharm doses.
The minister said the ministry will allocate vehicles and vaccination facilities to expand the vaccination campaign nationwide.
She also noted that vaccination teams will station around pension service offices so as to administer the vaccine to the elderly.
Zayed said she will inspect the new Fair Zone vaccination centre after the Muslim’s Eid Al-Fitr, which is designed to vaccine 10,000-15,000 citizens per day.
Zayed added the ministry called on the governors to allocate similar big centres in their governorates, noting that a similar centre will soon be inaugurated in Giza.
The minister reassured citizens that the coronavirus situation in Egypt is stable despite the slightly increasing cases, reiterating that there are enough places in hospitals for coronavirus patients.
Zayed said a slight increase in the coronavirus cases is expected during the coming period due to some citizens’ non-adherence to the precautionary measures during Ramadan and before the Eid.
She also noted that the coronavirus situation in Upper Egypt, which had reportedly worsened over the past month, is significantly improving.
She also affirmed that the country has not recognized other coronavirus variants as relevant examinations are being carried out.