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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Egypt could start Covid-19 vaccination within weeks, says health minister

The country received its first shipment of the Sinopharm vaccine last month, but further deliveries have been delayed

China's Sinopharm vaccine received emergency authorisation to be used in Egypt. Reuters
China's Sinopharm vaccine received emergency authorisation to be used in Egypt. Reuters

Egypt expects to start receiving Covid-19 vaccines through the Geneva-based GAVI vaccine alliance in the coming weeks, its health minister said on Monday.

The country will get 40 million vials for 20 million people, about 20 per cent of the 100 million population, Hala Zayed said.

"It will give us the urgent needs during the first quarter," Ms Zayed said.

"Within two or three weeks maximum there will be the beginning of the influx of GAVI vaccines, which largely will be AstraZeneca [vaccines]," she said.

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GAVI and the World Health Organisation set up the Covax initiative to secure fair vaccine access for lower and middle-income countries.

Ms Zayed said Egypt expected to sign a contract with AstraZeneca once an Egyptian drug regulator approved the company's vaccines. That approval was expected within a week.

Cairo has asked Pfizer to send data on its vaccine to the regulator, Ms Zayed said.

Egypt received its first shipment of vaccines developed by Sinopharm in December, but further shipments have been delayed.

Ms Zayed said more Sinopharm vaccines would arrive within days.

Egypt has signed a contract with Sinopharm to receive 40 million more doses and hopes for a similar amount from AstraZeneca.

Vaccination could start later this month or in early February once the second shipment from Sinopharm arrives, Ms Zayed said.

The vaccine received "emergency authorisation" to be used in Egypt, she said.

As of Monday, Egypt's government has confirmed 150,753 infections and 8,249 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

However, health officials say the real number is likely to be much higher because of the relatively low rate of coronavirus testing and the exclusion of private test results.

Updated: January 12, 2021 10:24 AM

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