File photo: Vials of the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by China's Sinovac firm (Photo: AFP)
Egypt will witness next week the production of the first package of locally-manufactured Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said on Wednesday.
In a statement issued on the same day in the weekly cabinet meeting, Madbouly expressed gratitude for the efforts made by the concerned authorities to protect citizens from this global epidemic.
Egypt received its first shipment — 1,400 litres — of Beijing-based Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine's raw material in May, enough to manufacture 2 million doses at the Egyptian Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA) by the end of June.
The 2 million shots are part of a wider deal with the Chinese company to produce a total of 40 million doses by the end of 2021 in Egypt, which aims to vaccinate 40 percent of its 100 million-plus population by that time.
The local production of the Sinovac vaccine, approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use on 1 June and by the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) in April, comes within Egypt's aim to become a manufacturing vaccine hub for Africa after meeting local needs.
The Sinovac jab is an inactivated vaccine and, according to the WHO, its easy storage requirements make it “very manageable, and particularly suitable” for low-resource settings, preventing the symptomatic disease in 51 percent of those vaccinated and avoiding severe COVID-19 in 100 per cent of the studied population. The WHO recommends the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine for use in adults 18 years and older.
Egypt is also in talks to locally manufacture the British AstraZeneca vaccine at VACSERA’s factories in 6 October City, according to previous statements by Health Minister Hala Zayed.
Egypt, whose daily detected infections have been receding since late-May, began its vaccination campaign in January and has so far inoculated more than 2.5 million of its 100 million-plus population with the Chinese Sinopharm and British-Indian AstraZeneca vaccines, according to the WHO's figures.
Egypt has until now increased its stock of imported vaccines to 5.6 million doses.
On Monday, it received the first shipment of 500,000 doses of Sinovac’s vaccine with another shipment of the same quantity expected to arrive during June.
In Wednesday's statement, the health minister noted that Egypt by the middle of next week is expected to receive 1 million doses of Sinopharm's vaccine, which the country has received 2.5 million doses of already.
As for AstraZeneca, the minister confirmed that Egypt has received more than 2.6 million doses of the British-Indian vaccine so far.
Meanwhile, Egypt's number of daily cases dropped from 1,200 in mid-May to 800-700 during this week, leading to Zayed's confirmation that the third wave of the pandemic is receding.
So far, Egypt has detected 269,527 coronavirus cases, including 197,832 recoveries and 15,437 deaths.