by Hani al-Gamal – Cairo
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered Covid-19 vaccines to be given free of charge to Egyptian citizens.
Plans are being made after Egypt received two shipments, containing 100,000 doses of the Chinese Covid-19 Sinopharm vaccine. Egyptian health authorities say medical professionals at the frontline of the fight against Covid-19, especially at the nation’s isolation hospitals, will be given priority as far as these vaccine doses are concerned.
Senior citizens, especially those with chronic diseases, will come next, the Ministry of Health said. Egypt was the first African and second Arab country to receive shipments of the Chinese vaccine. The United Arab Emirates, which participated in clinical trials over the same vaccine, was the first Arab state to receive doses of it.
Egypt also participated in the clinical trials of Sinopharm, along with another Chinese vaccine. Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed volunteered within the trials in September this year. A scientific committee of the Egyptian Ministry of Health approved the vaccine after the completion of the trials.
Egyptian health specialists are optimistic that the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines one after another will give health authorities the chance to contain the disease and prevent its spread.
“The good thing, is that the first doses of the disease will be given to medical professionals standing on the frontline of the fight against this disease,” leading gastroenterologist Ashraf Aqaba told MedyaNews. Egypt has so far lost 244 medical professionals to Covid-19 and over 7,000 ordinary people. Over 12,000 people also contracted the disease, but the vast majority of them have recovered, thanks to efforts by the nation’s medical professionals and institutions.
The arrival of the first two shipments of the Chinese vaccine comes as Egypt witnesses a growth in daily Covid-19 infections. Daily infections witnessed a surge from less than 300 a month ago to over 600 now. Health specialists expect the infections to double and even triple in the coming period.
Commenting on the arrival of the first two shipments of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine, Zayed said two doses of the vaccine are necessary for the bodies of those receiving the vaccines to develop antibodies that can fight off the disease.
Twenty-one days must separate the first dose of the vaccine from the second one, the minister said.
The Ministry of Health and Population is expected to launch a new website soon to receive requests from members of the public who want to be immunized against Covid-19. Egypt is planning to manufacture the Sinopharm vaccine locally after making the necessary agreements with the Chinese company producing it.
Mohamed Sabri, a senior official of the National Research Centre, the main scientific research agency in Egypt, said Egyptian labs have a good record developing vaccines and manufacturing them.
“We are able to manufacture the Chinese vaccine here under license from the mother company in China,” Sabri said.