Egypt's Health Minister Hala Zayed
Egypt detected its first case of the new Delta Plus COVID-19 variant in a 35-year-old Egyptian woman in July, but she had shown “very mild” symptoms and therefore did not require hospitalisation, stated the country’s Health Minister Hala Zayed on Monday.
Some other cases of the new variant were also detected in Egyptian travellers and non-travellers alike recently; however, these cases did not require hospital care, Zayed continued.
According to the World Health Organisation, the Delta Plus variant contains a new mutation in the spike protein the virus uses to enter human cells. Since it is closely linked to the Delta variant, it has been called Delta Plus rather than another letter in the Greek alphabet. So far, the Delta Plus variant has been found in relatively low numbers.
The Delta variant first surfaced in India in March and is currently the cause of many cases worldwide; it does not cause severe symptoms, but its risk lies in being highly contagious, the minister explained during a press briefing on the situation of the pandemic.
Minister Zayed said Egypt is seeking to widen vaccination coverage, as the daily coronavirus infection tally began to increase starting last week.
Egypt expects a fourth wave of the coronavirus around the end of September or the beginning of October.
Zayed underscored that Egypt is well prepared for the new wave with its intensified vaccination process and highly efficient treatment protocol for the detected cases.
The minister urged Egyptians to register their data on the vaccination website in order to receive their doses, adding that the country has increased the number of coronavirus vaccination centres nationwide to avoid any crowding, and deployed several mobile teams at industrial zones and governmental workplaces to administer the vaccines.
The vaccines reduce death and hospitalisation rates by 90 percent, Zayed said.
According to Zayed, 10 million citizens have already registered to receive the shots, and around 7.5 million of have already been vaccinated.
Egypt has announced that vaccination is mandatory for students, staff, and workers aged 18 or above who are involved in the pre-university or university sectors.
Egypt has locally produced 15 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine through the production lines of the country's drugmaker VACSERA, which has a production capacity of 15-18.5 million doses monthly, Zayed announced during the briefing.
The first 1 million doses will be supplied to vaccination centres nationwide starting Tuesday, she added.
The step is part of a wider deal with the Chinese company to produce a total of 40 million doses by the end of the current year. Egypt seeks to export the surpluses to the region.
The minister also said that a new partnership with a Western pharmaceutical company to manufacture vaccines in Egypt is expected soon, without providing further details.
Egypt is due to receive 5.2 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines in September, Zayed noted.
Millions of doses of Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have already been received.
"With the available vaccines, we can protect many lives during the fourth wave," she stressed.