Egyptian private sector biotechnology company, Vaccine Valley, is on the way to producing the country’s first vaccine against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The move comes as Egypt looks to be part of the international effort to produce a COVID-19 vaccine, through the scientific work of the National Research Center (NRC) in cooperation with Vaccine Valley.
Faried Al-Sayed, Quality Assurance Manager at the company, told Daily News Egypt that the potential vaccine will be called “COVID-Vac1”, and will be available for consumption by April or May.
The company has worked in cooperation with the NRC to transfer the centre’s technologies to Vaccine Valley’s factories, in cooperation with the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA).
The EDA had some requirements regarding the factory’s location, infrastructure, the equipment, and its capabilities and scientific teams. According to Al-Sayed, Vaccine Valley has fulfilled the authority’s requirements.
He said that the company and the EDA agreed to produce 5,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in the first phase of clinical studies. After its efficacy was proven during clinical studies, the vaccine should be approved.
“What is distinctive about the Egyptian vaccine is that the strain of the virus was isolated from an Egyptian strain, purified, and placed in a gene-bank,” Al-Sayed noted, adding that the COVID-Vac1 vaccine showed effectiveness of above 90%.
He further noted that, as part of the safety precautions taken by the research team behind the vaccine, some of the team members were vaccinated during pre-clinical studies with COVID-19 Vac1. They did not experience any side effects from the vaccine.
Moreover, Dr Ahmed Al-Senoussi, Professor of Virology at Cairo University, said that COVID-19 Vac1 will be safe and effective because it stimulates the immune system in the human body.
He added that the EDA is following up on the vaccine requirements, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It will be the first Egyptian vaccine, and will be trialled on animals before clinical trials on humans take place,” Al-Senoussi said.
He explained that the strain of the virus was taken from an Egyptian woman from Minya who had been infected with COVID-19.
The NRC was looking for the best place in Egypt to produce their vaccine, and selected Vaccine Valley for their project, after the company undertook some amendments to meet their requirements, according to the company’s CEO Mohsen Badawy. He noted that the company has changed its plans to contribute to this national project, with a budget of about EGP 400m.
Badawy said that his company’s main activity is to manufacture veterinary vaccines, but it has the capabilities to produce human vaccines in cooperation with the NRC, and after meeting the EDA’s requirements.
He added that the company will receive few profits just to cover the production process.
“It is part of our social responsibility to contribute to combating the pandemic,” Badawy said, adding that his company will produce other human vaccines after the pandemic.
According to Badawy, the vaccine showed very positive results, and will go through an initial production of about 15,000 doses over three phases, in accordance with the agreement with the EDA.
Badawy said that the team working on the production process includes over 150 researchers and specialists to produce the vaccine as soon as possible.