- Ahmed Shousha
- BBC – Cairo
Mervat Mahrous took a calm step towards the doctor, who would give her the injection she had been waiting for. Inside the medical hall, there were others over the age of 65 or those with chronic diseases.
These are the first categories of care for Egyptian citizens that have been identified by the Ministry of Health to start receiving the Coronavirus vaccine today, in addition to the medical teams that have already started vaccination more than a month ago.
Mervat says that she feels that this vaccine will protect her. “If she is exposed to the Coronavirus, God forbid, it will pass as if it were a common cold.”
The public medical center in the New Nozha region, north of Cairo, where Mervat took her vaccination, is one of 40 centers designated by the Egyptian Ministry of Health across the country to give vaccines, which the Ministry said will increase in succession to meet the needs of everyone who expresses a desire for the vaccine.
The director of the center, Hala Muhammad, explains the vaccination procedures, saying that after the citizen receives a letter informing him of going to receive the vaccine, personal and medical data is recorded, and then he sits with a doctor explaining to him the benefits of the vaccine and its possible side effects, before agreeing to take the first dose of it.
She added that the team follows up the citizens after receiving the vaccine for a short period to make sure that there is no health problem, and if that appears, it will help them immediately.
Abd al-Rahman Mahrous, who also came to the center to take his first dose, is happy, saying: “I encourage others to do like me and receive the vaccine.”
At the same time, the Egyptian Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, accompanied by the Minister of Health, Hala Zayed, was inspecting the start of the distribution of vaccines in the nearby Katameya area.
Madbouly announced that the government is seeking to provide the largest number of vaccines of the brands approved by the Egyptian Medicines Authority.
Why did most Egyptians not register to receive the vaccine?
The Egyptian Ministry of Health launched a website 4 days ago to receive requests for the Coronavirus vaccine. Although the target groups in the first phase amounted to about 20 million people, only about 150,000 citizens applied for the vaccine, according to a statement issued by the Egyptian government on the first days of citizens receiving the vaccine.
The number appears small if advertising campaigns to receive the Coronavirus vaccine in the local media are also included.
When we wandered around a number of Cairo streets to ask citizens what might prevent them from receiving the vaccine, Muhammad, who wore a jilbab and spoke in a Sufi accent, told me that he had no internet access and did not know how he could register to receive the vaccine. They will give the vaccine to everyone, they are giving it to higher social levels. “
However, Syed, a home delivery worker, did not agree with Muhammad while talking to us from his motorcycle and saying that the vaccine distribution would be fair, but he feared its potential effects, adding, “Everyone is afraid of the new vaccine.”
As for Saeed, the street bread seller, he told me that he knew nothing about the new vaccine until I spoke to him.
Lubna says she does not know how non-Egyptians can register for vaccinations. The Egyptian government had previously announced that the vaccine would be distributed to all who reside in Egypt.
Among doctors, there was a fear of receiving the vaccine
In Egyptian hospitals, where the Ministry of Health vaccinated about 10,000 medical personnel starting January 24, there remains a refusal rate of more than 40 percent to receive vaccinations, according to what Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi revealed two weeks ago.
The Egyptian Medical Syndicate has often called on the government to provide vaccinations for medical teams facing the risk of infection with the Coronavirus inside isolation hospitals, especially as it continues to announce every period of time an increase in the number of deaths of its members as a result of their work in the first rows.
Islam Anan, a professor of health economics and epidemiology, says that the reason behind the lack of acceptance of the Coronavirus vaccine, whether from doctors or citizens, is the lack of knowledge and lack of awareness.
He added in an interview with the BBC that the result of the delay in receiving the vaccine will make the respiratory symptoms associated with the Corona virus remain severe, and that the deaths will not be less than they are, explaining that this would delay the return to normal life, although it is also in less precautionary measures. Than it is now.
Annan justifies the speed of vaccine production than usual because funding for scientific research in this matter was unprecedented as well as the availability of technology in the current era more than it was in the past, in addition to the response of hundreds of thousands of volunteers to participate in clinical trials, which was difficult in any Vaccine that was previously worked on.
The total amount of vaccines that have reached Egypt so far has not exceeded 400 thousand doses, whether from the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine or the AstraZenka vaccine. Egypt initially received 50,000 doses from China and the same from AstraZeneca, in addition to 300,000 doses that came a few days ago as a gift from China.
Each person needs two doses to complete the vaccination process, which means that Egypt still has to obtain more than 200 million doses to secure Egypt’s need for vaccines.
Egypt hopes to receive more vaccine doses during the current month, especially with questions that are currently emerging about the reasons for the delay in the arrival of doses.