Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population announced on Thursday night that the first batch of the Chinese coronavirus vaccine had arrived at Cairo International Airport.
During a press conference at Cairo International Airport, Health Minister Hala Zayed said that the first batch, containing 50,000 doses, had arrived and will be available to citizens free of charge. The batch was provided as a gift from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the Chinese and Emirati Ambassadors to Egypt present at Cairo International Airport alongside the Minister of Health.
According to the Egyptian Health Minister, Egypt is the first African country to receive a COVID-19 vaccine batch and that a website and a hotline will be launched to allow those eligible to receive the vaccine to register. Medical staff working in chest and fever hospitals and isolation hospitals and patients with kidney, heart and other chronic diseases would receive priority access to the vaccine.
The vaccine, which is developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, has already been rolled out in the UAEto frontline workers. According to the UAE’s Health Ministry, the Sinopharm vaccine has 86 percent efficacy.
The UAE Health Ministry’s statement added that analysis of the vaccine, which included late-stage clinical trials that first commenced in the country in July, showed no serious safety concerns. According to CNN, nearly 100,000 people across the UAE have received the vaccine as part of a voluntary program, with 31,000 others receiving it as part of clinical trials. Among those who have received the vaccine is UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who posted a photo of himself receiving the dose on Twitter in November.
While receiving the COVID-19 vaccine today. We wish everyone safety and great health, and we are proud of our teams who have worked relentlessly to make the vaccine available in the UAE. The future will always be better in the UAE. pic.twitter.com/Rky5iqgfdg
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) November 3, 2020
In addition to the Sinopharm vaccine, Egypt has signed agreements or expressed its interest to receive vaccines from a number of other sources. This includes Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s vaccine and US pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s vaccine to cover 20 percent of Egypt’s needs, both of which Egypt says will cover 50 percent of the country’s needs. Egypt has also been in discussions with Pharco, a leading Russian pharmaceutical corporation.
COVID-19 cases in Egypt recently continued to rise, with the first week of December seeing thee number of deaths doubling from 14 a day to 28. On Thursday night, Egypt’s Ministry of Health recorded 445 new cases and 22 new deaths, taking the total number of infections to 120,147 and the number of deaths to 6,854. A total of 104,281 people have recovered from the virus. It is believed the actual number of infections in Egypt is much higher than the officially recorded cases.
Despite the rising number of new officially recorded cases, which had decreased to less than 100 earlier in August after peaking in June at 1,774 cases, a large number of Egyptians continue to ignore health safety instructions, including social distancing, and are no longer wearing masks contrary to government directives.