Egypt's health minister says country has achieved Covid-19 herd immunity

Khaled Abdel Ghaffar tells national talk show that situation could change if booster shots are neglected

A man wearing a protective mask amid concerns over the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), walks on a bridge across the Nile river in the Egyptian capital Cairo, Egypt, January 26, 2022.  Reuters
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Egypt’s population of 102 million has reached herd immunity against Covid-19, the country’s acting health minister said.

During a phone-in on a national talk show on Sunday night, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, who is also the country’s Higher Education Minister, provided an update on Egypt’s pandemic situation.

Dr Mohamed Tag El Din, a prominent health adviser to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, last month told a TV phone-in that the country was witnessing its sixth wave of Covid-19.

The most likely causes of the recent rise in infections worldwide are two offshoots of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5, the World Health Organisation has said.

But Mr Abdel Ghaffar said on Sunday that because more than 90 per cent of Egypt’s over-18s have been vaccinated with at least one approved dose, the recent rise in coronavirus infections has not resulted in an increase in hospital admissions or ICU occupancy rates nationwide.

The minister said 65 per cent of the country’s over-18s have been fully vaccinated with two doses, and that 93 million doses of an approved vaccine had been administered in Egypt.

Mr Abdel Ghaffar said the country had reached herd immunity, but that could change if people do not get their booster vaccination shot, which he urged them to do.

Egypt in June lifted all Covid-related travel restrictions at its points of entry to boost the tourism sector, which had also taken a hit from the Russia-Ukraine war, as it is usually a popular spot for visitors from those countries.

In April, the Health Ministry halted its weekly update on the country’s coronavirus numbers and the minister said at the time that increased vaccinations had reduced the number of serious bouts of the disease significantly, which meant it the disease was not as concerning.

Updated: August 03, 2022, 12:58 PM