Egypt on Thursday received its first shipment of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, which was tested in the United Arab Emirates and is said to be 86% effective.
The shipment by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm landed at Cairo’s international airport from the UAE.
Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed and diplomats from China and the UAE were at the airport to greet the shipment.
Zayed later revealed that the Chinese vaccine will be available for citizens for free upon directives of President Abdul Fatah el-Sisi.
The priority of distributing the vaccine would be given to the medical staff in isolation hospitals, people with chronic diseases like cancer and kidney failure, and the elderly, Zayed added.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, has seen an increase in confirmed coronavirus infections in recent weeks amid warnings by the government about a second wave of the pandemic, The Associated Press reported.
It also reported 445 newly confirmed coronavirus infections Thursday and 22 deaths from COVID-19, bringing the country’s overall tally to 120,147 cases, with 6,854 deaths.
The Sinopharm vaccine has been approved for emergency use in a few countries and the company is still conducting late-stage clinical trials in 10 nations.
Sinopharm’s vaccine relies on a killed virus, similar to how polio immunizations work.
Vaccines being developed by Western companies, like the shot made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, target the coronavirus’ spike protein using RNA. The United Kingdom already has begun vaccinating people with the Pfizer shot.
Pfizer reports its shot as being 95% effective, while another RNA candidate from Moderna appears to be 94.5% effective. Results suggest a third vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca is safe and about 70% effective, but questions remain about how well it may help protect those over 55.