Mon, 01 Mar 2021

ISMAILIA, Egypt, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Egypt started on Sunday vaccinating medical staff with Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine at a hospital in the northeastern province of Ismailia, according to a vaccination program by the Egyptian Health Ministry.

"Today, I announce launching the national campaign of COVID-19 vaccination from Abu Khalifa Hospital, starting with the medical staff," Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed told a news conference at Abu Khalifa Emergency Hospital in Ismailia.

The minister explained that clinical trials have proved Sinopharm vaccine is safe and highly effective in COVID-19 prevention, especially "in prevention of COVID-19 infection with severe symptoms."

She added that Sinopharm vaccine has been registered at the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) and other vaccines from China, Britain and Russia will be registered within days.

Egypt received on Dec. 10, 2020 the first batch of Sinopharm vaccine, and the vaccine was officially licensed for emergency use later in the same month, after going through four tests conducted by the EDA.

The vaccination program starts with the medical staff of the hospitals of the Egyptian Health Ministry, the armed forces and the police.

"Starting from tomorrow, the medical staff of all Egyptian public hospitals, and those of the armed forces and the police, will start receiving these vaccines," Zayed told reporters.

The priorities, according to the vaccination campaign, are given to medical staff dealing with COVID-19 patients, followed by those dealing with other patients, the elderly, those with chronic or immunity diseases, and the rest of the citizens.

Zayed noted that Egypt has already reserved more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from different providers.

The minister said that she has gone through the clinical trial of the vaccine, as a message of reassurance and encouragement to all citizens.

Among the first medics to receive Sinopharm vaccine in Egypt was Abdel-Moneim Selim, a trainee physician at the intensive care unit (ICU) of Abu Khalifa Emergency Hospital in Ismailia.

"I was asked 10 days ago if I agree to take the vaccine and I have already made up my mind to do it. It is a safe vaccine and it was tried by many people before us. I recommend everyone to take the vaccine whenever possible, whether a medic or not, and whether old or young," the ICU doctor told reporters.

For his part, Mohamed Ahmed Ali, professor of virology at Egypt's National Research Center, said that he was among the members of the Health Ministry's committee who recommended the purchase of Sinopharm vaccine.

"I guarantee the safety and efficacy of the Chinese vaccine. I believe Sinopharm vaccine is one the safest," the professor said.

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