Egypt will vaccinate all 4.5 million state employees against COVID-19 in August and September in order to speed vaccines ahead of a possible fourth wave of infections, according to the health minister on Monday.
The country’s infection rate is still low, but it began to rise last week, and the upward trend is predicted to continue for some time, according to Hala Zayed, who added that a large increase is expected in late September.
“It is important for the Egyptian government and the political leadership that we work to intensify vaccinations in the coming period,” Zayed said.
As part of the programme, all workers in pre-university education, university employees and university students – a total of more than 5 million people – will be vaccinated before the start of the academic year in October, she said.
So far, about 10 million people have registered online to get vaccinated and nearly 7.5 million have received at least one dose, Zayed said.
The prime minister said in June the government aimed to vaccinate 40% of the population of more than 100 million by the end of this year.
Egypt has received millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines produced by AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik, and Johnson & Johnson.
It has also produced 15 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine locally, Zayed said, and will receive about 5.2 million doses produced by Pfizer and Moderna in September.
The Egyptian Drug Authority on Monday approved an emergency use licence for the locally produced VACSERA-Sinovac vaccines, it said in a statement.
The country plans to have 800 vaccine centres running by the end of August, up from 657 currently.
Egypt has recorded 286,352 COVID-19 infections as of Sunday, including 16,674 deaths. However, officials and experts say the real number of infections is far higher but is not reflected in government figures because of low coronavirus testing rates and the exclusion of private test results.
The first COVID-19 infection from the Delta variant was discovered in Egypt in mid-July, Zayed said, adding that it concerned a 35-year-old woman who did not need hospitalization.
Other cases were discovered later among Egyptians but none were hospitalized because they had mild symptoms, she added.