Egypt will release its locally-produced doses of the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus vaccine by today or tomorrow maximum, and will manufacture between 15 and 18.5 million doses per month, Health Minister Hala Zayed said on Sunday.
Zayed made the announcement during a press conference with her Djiboutian counterpart, Ahmed Abdilleh, in Cairo.
Egypt plans to produce millions of Sinovac and Russian Sputnik V vaccine 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.
Zayed during the press conference said Egypt will receive 5.2 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines next month.
Vaccination in universities, schools
During the presser, Zayed said the ministry plans to vaccinate over 3.2 million people in universities and 2 million in schools before the beginning of the new year.
This includes teaching staff, administrative personnel, workers, security personnel as well as university students, Zayed said.
She noted that the school personnel will receive the two vaccine doses in August and September.
They will register on the health ministry’s vaccination website under a new category, Zayed said, noting that they will receive an SMS within 72 hours to get the vaccine.
Vaccination for travelers
The health ministry has raised the number of centres allocated to vaccinate those willing to travel abroad to 145 in Egypt’s 27 governorates, Zayed said at the presser.
She noted that the large vaccination centres of the Fair Zone in Cairo, the Bohoth City in Alexandria and the Academy of Arts in Giza are capable of vaccinating up to 60,000 citizens per day.
The health ministry, in coordination with the emigration ministry, vaccinates those who had earlier received coronavirus shots and are willing to receive the Johnson & Johnson or any other vaccine recognized in the countries they are travelling to, Zayed noted.
She added that this is limited to traveling for the purpose of work, study or treatment and is not applied to traveling for the purpose of tourism.
A building in Cairo’s Nasr City has been allocated to vaccinate university and post-university student delegations traveling abroad, according to Zayed.
Egypt had received its first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, comprising 261,600 doses earlier this month. Zayed in August said 700,000 more doses of the American vaccine will be provided in the coming period.
In case Egypt ran out of the Johnson & Johnson doses allocated for traveling purpose, it will use the British AstraZeneca vaccine, Zayed added.
According to recommendations by the World Health Organisation, the AstraZeneca vaccine doses can be administered only four weeks apart instead of 12.
Medical sector, ‘booster shots’
The Egyptian minister said the coronavirus cases among the medical staff have significantly decreased, affirming that around 700,000 medical workers have been vaccinated, representing more than 95 percent of the sector.
She denied plans to provide medical staff with booster vaccine shots.
Zayed said the country, instead, aims to administer the two vaccine shots to the largest possible number of citizens, especially as the country expects a rise in infections by the second half of September.
Zayed noted that all medical staff and public sector workers will have to take the vaccine before the beginning of October, as per the Cabinet’s directives.
Djibouti’s 1st specialized hospital
Egypt will start the construction of a “giant” obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics hospital in Djibouti next month, as the first specialized hospital in the African country, Zayed said during the presser.
The establishment of the hospital has been agreed on during President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s “historic” visit to Djibouti in May, Zayed told the press conference.
A nursing and midwifery school as well as an ambulance department will be attached to the hospital, Zayed said, adding that Egypt will supply the Djiboutian side with an ambulance vehicle.
Egypt will supply the hospital with medical staff, medicine and medical supplies, Zayed said, adding that the operation and preparation of the hospital will be Egypt’s responsibility.
Djiboutian Health Minister Ahmed Abdilleh, during the presser, hailed the step as a qualitative leap in the medical field in the country, especially in the field of obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics.
He added that the planned hospital is a gift from the Egyptian people to the people of Djibouti and reflects the good and brotherly relations gathering the two countries.
Abdilleh affirmed that his country welcomes cooperation with Egypt in various fields, including the health and medical domains.
He promised that his country will facilitate all the required procedures for the implementation of the project in the shortest time possible and will ensure the removal of any obstacles in this regard.
Zayed said the average number of births per family in Djibouti is 10 and therefore an obstetrics and pediatrics hospital is largely needed, especially that the hospital will serve a “crowded” area.
El-Sisi’s visit to Djibouti earlier this year is the first official visit by an Egyptian president to the African country since its independence in the seventies.
Meeting with his Djiboutian counterpart Ismaïl Omar Guelleh during the visit, El-Sisi reiterated Egypt's keenness to enhance support directed to development efforts in Djibouti.
Cooperation could also extend to the transfer of Egyptian expertise to Djibouti as well as providing technical support and capacity-building programmes for Djiboutian cadres, El-Sisi told Guelleh.
Guelleh hailed Cairo's "sincere" efforts to support economic reform and development paths in Djibouti and praised the Egyptian private sector’s contribution to the economic development process in Africa.
Egypt in May sent four planes carrying medical aid to Djibouti to support the health sector in the company amid the coronavirus crisis.