A man receives a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cairo, Egypt March 4, 2021. REUTERS
Egypt is awaiting the delivery of Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines to raise its supply of both vaccines to 9 million doses, and is also set to receive its first batch of the Sinovac vaccine, Health Minister Hala Zayed said at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Minister Zayed said the country is due to receive 500,000 of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine within days, as well as 1.9 million of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX initiative within the first week of June.
Within days, the minister said, the country's supply of the Sinopharm vaccine is expected to exceed 2.5 million doses, while AstraZeneca doses will reach over 5.2 million, most of which have come through the COVAX, a global facility that aims to secure access to coronavirus vaccines for all countries, particularly developing nations.
Egypt also is due to receive the first batch of the China-made Sinovac vaccine. The shipment, set to arrive in Cairo between the last week of May and the first week of June, will carry a total of 2 million doses, according to Zayed.
Also, a shipment carrying raw materials needed for producing 2 million doses of Sinovac is on its way to Egypt, said the health minister.
Cairo plans to manufacture over 40 million doses annually of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine under the deal to cover the country’s vaccination needs and to export doses to Africa.
Nearly 1 million Egyptian citizens have been vaccinated, out of a total 2.7 million who have registered to receive the inoculation via a website set up by the Egyptian Ministry of Health.
Egypt began vaccinating priority groups in March under a wider rollout of the vaccination programme after it began the vaccination of the country’s medical staff in January.
Currently, the vaccines are being administrated to workers at industrial and economic institutions, in addition to prison inmates.
Zayed said the ministry is forging ahead with widening the vaccination campaign to include the supervisors for high school and university exams, which are set to start between June and July.
Egypt has allocated 375 centres nationwide to receive those seeking coronavirus vaccines, including Cairo's International Exhibition Centre, a mega-centre that can host 10,000 citizens daily, with a medical crew of 600 workers and a smart queue system to avoid crowding.
Egypt, which is seeing a third wave of the pandemic, has recorded a total of 248,078 coronavirus infections, including 14,441 deaths and 182,693 recoveries.
Earlier today, the government announced the extension of partial lockdown measures – in place since 6 May – for a further two weeks.
The measures, meant to subdue the pandemic's third wave, include closing entertainment and commercial venues early at 9pm, while allowing pharmacies, bakeries, and supermarkets to open around the clock, and with restaurants allowed to make home deliveries all day long.