Egypt has granted regulatory approval for the use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharma giant Sinopharm, with the inoculation campaign expected to get under way later in January, the health minister said.
“The Egyptian pharmaceutical authority approved on Saturday the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine,” Hala Zayed told the local MBC Masr channel.
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Zayed said the first batch of the vaccine was delivered in December, with further doses expected this month.
“The second shipment of this vaccine is due to arrive in the second or third week of January, and as soon as it arrives, we will start vaccinations,” the minister said.
Each batch of the vaccine consists of 50,000 doses. Zayed said Egypt plans to buy 40 million doses of the Sinopharm jab.
The health ministry has announced the first group to receive the vaccination will be the country’s medical workers.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with about 100 million inhabitants, has recorded more than 140,000 cases of the COVID-19 disease, including 7,800 deaths.
After a brief lull, the number of infections rose dramatically in late 2020, from about 100 new cases confirmed a day in October to some 1,400 daily cases currently.
Sinopharm announced on Wednesday that one of its vaccines, to be distributed in China, was 79 percent effective.
The jab’s efficacy is lower than that of vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – both over 90 percent effective.
Another jab developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University has proved to be 70 percent effective.
Egypt will also receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the third or fourth week of January, according to Zayed, who added that a contract “was being finalised”.
Negotiations with Pfizer “are under way” as well, she added.