CAIRO (AP) – Egypt’s national investigative body said on Sunday it will begin clinical trials for a domestically-made coronavirus vaccine.
The acting health minister, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, told reporters at a news conference that it is launching clinical trials of the new vaccine. He said the trial for the vaccine, called “COVI VAX,” will start with tens, then hundreds, and eventually thousands of people.
Sunday’s announcement in Cairo was the first indication that researchers there had moved from producing the vaccine and early testing to injecting people who are the subjects. The World Health Organization has previously recognized the Egyptian vaccine as one of hundreds of formulas in development around the world. It works by taking up proteins from the original virus to elicit an immune response.
“It is a very important strategic situation that there is an Egyptian vaccine that we can rely on for the foreseeable future,” said Ghaffar, who is also the minister of higher education and head of the country’s national research institute.
The government has been trying to encourage more of its population to get vaccinated as cases have risen in recent weeks. From November 15, all government employees are expected to show proof of vaccination to enter their workplace.
According to government officials, Egypt has vaccinated more than 14% of the population. It relied almost entirely on shipments of vaccines from other countries, many through the international COVAX initiative designed to deliver shots to developing countries.
According to a daily updated count of coronavirus cases from the country’s health ministry, 19,435 people have died from the virus in Egypt since the start of the pandemic and 343,026 have been confirmed to be infected. The actual number is probably much higher.