Covid-19 vaccination open to residents and citizens in Egypt

Registration will begin on Sunday for the elderly and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

epa09030545 A plane from Egypt's state-owned carrier, EgyptAir, sits on a runway after transfering the second batch of the Sinopharm vaccine from China, after arrival at Cairo International Airport, in Cairo, Egypt, 23 February 2021.  EPA/KHALED ELFIQI
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Egypt’s foreign residents will be given equal priority to register for the nation’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, Health Ministry spokesman Nader Saad said on Wednesday.

The first phase of inoculations is set to begin on Sunday, for people above the age of 40 and those living with a chronic illness.

During a phone-in interview on an Egyptian television news programme, Mr Saad said all foreign residents, refugees, and diplomats would be allowed to register to receive a vaccine on Sunday along with Egyptian citizens, provided they are over the age of 40 or suffer from a chronic illness.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Hala Zayed announced that an online platform had been set up through which anyone could register to receive their jab.

Speaking after the arrival of 300,000 doses of China's Sinopharm vaccine, Ms Zayed confirmed that the registration website would allow visitors to upload up to three documents relevant to their health condition.

Registration has also been made available at all hospitals nationwide.

Each inoculation will cost EGP 200 ($12.75), Ms Zayed said earlier this week. She also confirmed that those who are unable to pay and can prove it will be given the vaccine free of charge.

Egypt launched its vaccination programme in January, but at the time it was limited to frontline healthcare workers who were regularly dealing with active Covid-19 patients.

It will use several vaccines in an effort to cover its population of 100 million. So far it has taken delivery of 100,000 Sinopharm vaccines and 50,000 from Oxford-AstraZeneca.

On Wednesday the government approved the emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine and expects to receive the first shipment of a million doses by the end of next week. Another 8.6 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are set to arrive in Egypt by the end of February, Ms Zayed said.

The Oxford phials are just one batch from a total of 40 million doses that will be supplied through Gavi vaccine alliance before the end of 2021.

The Health Ministry's latest tally reported 644 new Covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 633 the day before. This brings the nation's official total to 180,051 confirmed cases. Another 52 deaths were reported, raising the country's death toll to 10,495.

The number of Covid-19 patients in Egypt is doubted by many, who say that the Health Ministry's official figures are a far cry from the real number of infections, which could be 10 times higher.

Commentators say that private labs are not included in the ministry's official figures and that many people choose to self-isolate or start medication without disclosing their condition to medical professionals.