Egypt en route to coronavirus vaccine production

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Thu, 29 Apr 2021 - 01:10 GMT

FILE: An employee holds a vial containing CoronaVac, Sinovac Biotech's vaccine against the coronavirus disease – Reuters

FILE: An employee holds a vial containing CoronaVac, Sinovac Biotech's vaccine against the coronavirus disease – Reuters

CAIRO – 29 April 2021: Officially, Egypt will locally produce China’s Sinovac and Russian Sputnik V vaccines and is planning to secure millions of doses annually as part of the state’s industry localization plan.

Egypt already got over 1.5 million coronavirus vaccine doses and has contracted to get millions others from China and through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX).

However, the preventive health officials in the country know that these vaccines, especially the Chinese, is likely a short-term vaccine, and therefore citizens may have to take the vaccine several times over the life course.

That’s why the country set plans to locally produce Sinovac and Sputnik V through Egyptian companies.

Also, Egypt plans to become a hub for exportation of coronavirus vaccine doses to African nations.

Egypt earlier approved for emergency use the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and thanks to the Chinese company, Egypt got its first batch of vaccine late last year.

While the country has started its vaccination campaign in January, the number of cases keeps on rising, especially as Egypt is currently suffering from a third coronavirus wave.

This surge is far more than the official numbers, health officials said frequently, urging citizens to stick to the preventive measures against coronavirus in a bid to curb the pandemic spread.

This pushed state officials, headed by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, to issue directives to expand the vaccination campaign so that priority groups then other groups get the vaccine.

Health Minister Hala Zayed in a press conference last week urged citizens and medical workers to register to take the vaccine.

She, however, said many of the citizens and medical staff have been reluctant to take the vaccine.

The minister said only 50 percent of the medical staff at most registered for the vaccine and 60 percent or less of those who registered went to actually take the vaccine.

Zayed referred to a World Health Organization’s advice for people to take the available vaccine in their countries.

Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed in remarks to the national TV on Wednesday said 1.8 million citizens have registered to receive the vaccine.

According to official figures, more than half a million citizens already received a vaccine dose in Egypt.

The company has allocated the website (https://egcovac.mohp.gov.eg/#/home) for people living in Egypt over 18 years old to register to receive the vaccine.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Prime Minister Mostafa Madboly both received the vaccine this month. Health Minister Hala Zayed received the Sinopharm vaccine during clinical trials last year.

Sinovac

On Monday, Egypt’s drug authority said it had approved Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Over the past few months, Egypt has reiterated its plans to locally produce the Sinovac vaccine to cover local and African needs.

Egypt’s Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA) and Sinovac this month signed two agreements to manufacture the vaccine.

VACSERA will manufacture the final product using the ready-made product provided by Sinovac.

The first agreement is related to the transfer of technology required to manufacture the vaccine doses, a Cabinet statement read. Under the agreement, Sinovac will grant VACSERA a limited license to use the manufacturing technology.

VACSERA will manufacture the vaccine inside the company’s production facilities.

The second agreement stipulates that Sinovac secures for Egypt all technical information related to the company’s vaccine and provides technical assistance.

Technical assistance will include examining VACSERA’s factories and testing the final product and means of manufacturing.

In her press conference last week, Zayed noted that Chinese experts will soon arrive in Egypt, adding that Egypt will produce from 40 to 60 million Sinovac doses in the first year, including 5 million in the first two months.

Sputnik V

In February, Egypt became the third country to approve the emergency use of the Russian-made Sputnik V, after it also approved Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines.

On April 19, Egypt’s Health Minister Hala Zayed met with Russian Ambassador to Cairo Georgy Borisenko, where they discussed Egypt’s possible production of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Zayed highlighted to Borisenko the Egyptian keenness to produce the Sputnik V vaccine through national companies.

The minister said this keenness seeks to cover the Egyptian vaccination needs and enable the country to export doses of coronavirus vaccine to African, a statement by the Health Ministry said.

 

وزيرة الصحة تستقبل السفير الروسي لدى مصر لبحث سبل توفير لقاح فيروس كورونا الروسي (سبوتنكV) السفير الروسي لدى مصر يؤكد...

Posted by ‎وزارة الصحة والسكان المصرية‎ on Monday, April 19, 2021

On 22 April, Egypt’s leading pharmaceutical company Minapharm said it would produce over 40 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine per year, as per an agreement with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

The agreement to produce the world’s first registered vaccine against the novel virus also includes Minapharm’s Berlin-based subsidiary ProBioGen AG.

Minapharm in a press release said the parties to the agreement plan to immediately start transferring technology required, expecting the rollout of the vaccine in the third quarter of 2021.

Minapharm says production of the 40 million annual doses will take place in its Cairo biotech facility for global distribution.

“Minapharm’s German subsidiary, ProBioGen AG, aims to undertake efforts for process optimization to further increase the production scale taking advantage of its expertise in viral vector technology and manufacturing process development for vaccines and gene therapy,” the press release read.

According to Minapharm, Sputnik V has been registered in 61 countries and proved 97.6% efficacy based on the analysis of data on the infection rate of coronavirus among those in Russia vaccinated with both components of the vaccine.

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