Egypt has received a first batch of 50,000 doses of the British Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as part of a 20 million dose agreement, reports the Egyptian Unified Procurement Agency. The batch arrived on 31 January aboard an Emirates Airlines plane coming from India, where the vaccine is developed by the R-Pharma and Serum Institute.
The Egyptian Drug Authority has approved the use of this vaccine, and is currently in the process of evaluating other vaccines prior to distributing them. Mohamed Awad Tag El-Din, presidential adviser for health affairs, stated during a press conference in December that Egypt will not distribute any vaccines until it is 100 percent proven internationally that they are safe and effective.
“We are monitoring the progress in scientific research on vaccines produced worldwide, and Egypt will make sure that it diversifies its sources of vaccines,” Tag El-Din said.
Egypt has additionally received 50,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine developed by China and the UAE, as well as agreeing on 30 million doses of the BioNTech-Pfeizer vaccine.
The vaccine, which is already being administered in Britain and has been approved by a number of other countries, is administered in two doses taking 21 days apart. However, unlike the Pfeizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines it does not rely on the messenger RNA technology that is considered a significant advancement in medicine. The AstraZeneca vaccine is also significantly more affordable than the two mRNA vaccines.
The vaccine has so far proven to be at about 70 percent efficacy and, unlike Pfeizer-BioNTech and Moderna, it does not need to be stored at extremely cold temperatures (between 2 and 8 degrees C, to Moderna’s -20 C and BioNTech-Pfeizer’s -70 C).
Minister of Health Dr. Hala Zayed noted that the medical staff, the elderly and those with chronic diseases will be the first priority in receiving the vaccines.