Egypt is aspiring to become Covid-19 vaccine-making hub for Africa following its recent deals to produce Chinese and Russian Sputnik vaccines locally.
A state-owned company on April 21, 2021, signed two agreements with the Chinese Sinovac Company for Biological Products to produce its Covid-19 vaccine in Egypt.
A day later, another Egyptian company signed a deal with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the Russian government’s sovereign wealth fund, for manufacturing Sputnik V vaccine locally.
Egypt’s arrangement with vaccine producers aims at allowing the country to produce 80 million doses of the Chinese vaccine and 40 million doses of the Russian vaccine annually.
These observers have claimed would be enough to cover the needs of Egyptians and advance the national response to Covid-19.
Local health officials and members of the parliament have said vaccine production surpluses will be exported to other African countries to meet growing needs in the continent.
A member of the parliamentary Committee on Health, Mahmud Abulkheir, told reporters that Egypt had plans far larger than meeting local demand.
“The number of doses to be produced locally of the two vaccines will be enough to meet national needs… However, Egypt has a plan far larger than meeting local demand,” he said.
Egypt has been preparing for the local production of Covid-19 vaccines for several months now.
The Arab nation, with a population now estimated at more than 100 million, has a pharmaceutical industrial base that has been functioning for decades.
This base is now a mere shadow of its former self for multiple reasons, including misguided medicine pricing policies, the lack of sufficient funds for research, and tough competition from regional and international medicine-markers.
However, Cairo has been making efforts to bring the pharmaceutical industry back to its past strengths.
Health Minister Hala Zayad told reporters at a news conference that production would kick off as soon as Chinese vaccine production experts arrive the country this week.
“We are ready with the production lines, Chinese expertise will be arriving in a few days, we will start working to prepare 40 million vaccine doses this year,” said Zayed.