Egypt seeks to inoculate 800,000 people per day to increase the number of vaccinated citizens against the coronavirus to 35.353 million in an average of 88 days, a cabinet statement cited Health Minister Hala Zayed as saying on Monday.
More than 155,000 people were jabbed on Sunday, Zayed said in a meeting of the higher committee for managing the coronavirus crisis, headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.
Zayed said 5.788 million messages were sent to citizens who registered to receive the vaccine, the statement read.
The health ministry is operating 580 vaccination centres nationwide, including 134 centres for travellers, Zayed added.
The health ministry has been receiving innoculation requests from the public on its official page since March.
It was noted during the meeting that more than 90 percent of the elderly at care homes have been vaccinated, the statement added.
Egypt started its coronavirus vaccination campaign in January this year, starting with medical staff, while its campaign to vaccinate citizens, prioritising the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases, started in March.
The government has set a goal to vaccinate 40 million citizens by the end of the year using the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik and Johnson & Johnson vaccines it has imported.
Egypt this month received its first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, comprising 261,600 doses.
Zayed said last week that 700,000 doses of the American vaccine will be administered to the public in the coming period.
Egypt also received on Friday night 1,766,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the COVAX initiative.
This is the third of several shipments of a total of 40 million doses to be provided to Egypt under the COVAX initiative, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed stated.
Egypt plans to produce millions of Sinovac and Sputnik doses annually to cover the local and African needs.
Early in July, Zayed said the ministry seeks to produce 80 million vaccine shots this year.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus began in Egypt in February 2020, the country has reported 285,358 coronavirus cases and 16,619 related deaths, the minister said.
The weekly coronavirus infections worldwide have increased by up to 6.03 percent and related deaths have risen by 3.7 percent, Zayed said during the meeting.
The coronavirus infection count worldwide is expected to reach 300 million by 2022, she noted.
Vaccinating university, school staff ‘priority’
Madbouly noted at the cabinet meeting that the government is prioritising the vaccination of teaching staff, workers, employees and students at universities and institutes.
This comes as per the directives of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to set an executive plan to vaccinate these cadres as well as school teachers before the beginning of the academic year.
Vaccinating employees at the state's administrative authorities is ongoing as well, Madbouly added.
Zayed said vaccination facilities at university hospitals originally allocated to vaccinate medical staff will be committed to vaccinate university workers too.
Each institute and research centre will also establish its own vaccination clinic, Zayed added.
The health ministry will provide these vaccination facilities with medical staff, devices required for vaccination registration, and sufficient vaccine shots, Zayed said.
These vaccination facilities will be committed to administer the second shot to higher education staff before the beginning of the academic year, the minister added.
University hospitals will be tasked with vaccinating higher education students during the medical examination ahead of their first school year, according to Zayed.
These hospitals will also be assigned to schedule the vaccination of university students in higher grades, she noted.
School staff will be able to register on the health ministry’s vaccination website under a new category named “workers at the education ministry,” the statement cited Zayed as saying.
The Ministry of Education will inform its employees to register on the website before 7 September, Zayed said. The health ministry will then send them messages with the dates to receive the two vaccine shots before the beginning of the academic year.
Local vaccine production ‘strategic choice’
During the cabinet meeting, Madbouly stressed the need to increase the efforts to provide the coronavirus vaccine for citizens to reduce infections, the statement read.
He affirmed the need to stick to the precautionary measures against the coronavirus to avoid its spread again.
The local manufacturing of vaccines is a “strategic choice,” Madbouly said, stressing the state’s continuous efforts to produce vaccines locally.
He said the country is trying to bring in big companies to cooperate with Egypt in manufacturing the vaccines, making them available for local use as well as for African countries.
In a meeting with Zayed last week, African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) President Benedict Oramah said the bank is willing to cooperate the Egypt to produce various types of coronavirus vaccines to protect the African people’s health.
During the meeting, Oramah hailed the huge production capacity that Egyptian drug factories have in terms of producing medicines and vaccines, a statement by the health ministry read.
Zayed stressed that Egypt wants to meet the vaccination needs of African states after covering Egypt’s inoculation requirements.
Egypt is able to manufacture different types of vaccines to combat various diseases in the African continent, Zayed noted. She added that Egypt is ready to transfer its manufacturing technology to African states and to send medical teams to exchange expertise.