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Spotlight on AstraZeneca in Egypt | BT talks with Country President

AstraZeneca'a Egypt Country President Hatem Werdany talks about the vaccine batches Egypt received, vaccine hesitancy, and the company’s investment in the Egyptian market

By: Hanan Mohamed

Wed, Dec. 29, 2021

“AstraZeneca is planning to spend around $120 million in the coming 3 years to bring more innovation to the Egyptian market, as it continues to grow steadily while offering us great opportunities to capitalize on,” AstraZeneca’s Egypt Country President Hatem Werdany told Business Today Egypt (BT).

COVID- 19 vaccination is now of global relevance and is globally recognized as the sole way to effectively prevent infection with the virus. However, the emergence of new vaccine strains poses an issue whereby some vaccines might not be fully protective.

Werdany stated that from the 585 million individuals who had received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine as of September 2021, COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca prevented over 105,000 deaths and over 620,000 hospitalizations worldwide.

Business Today Egypt (BT) talked with Country President for Egypt, AstraZeneca Hatem Werdany about the vaccine batches Egypt received, doubts about the efficacy of the vaccine, and the company’s investment in the Egyptian market.

 

When will Egypt receive the next batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine?

In line with our strategy, we have delivered over 12.5 million doses to Egypt to date and we are constantly working with the Government and our partners to increase that number to support Egypt’s vaccination drive.

AstraZeneca is committed to widely and equitably supplying the vaccine around the world at no profit during the pandemic period. To date, more than 1.7 billion doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been released for supply to over 170 countries around the world, and approximately two thirds have gone to low- and lower middle-income countries.

From the 585 million individuals who had received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine starting September 2021, the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca prevented over 105,000 deaths and over 620,000 hospitalizations worldwide.

 

A UK study shows that there is some waning in vaccine efficacy. To what extent are the results of this study accurate?

Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that after approximately 5 months, two doses of the AstraZeneca Vaccine, given 12 weeks apart, continue to provide high levels of protection against severe COVID-19 outcomes (hospitalization and death), across all age groups.

The AstraZeneca Vaccine also remained 80% effective in preventing COVID-19 related deaths due to the Delta variant across all age groups after 5 months.

Importantly, the paper illustrates the effectiveness of all COVID-19 disease severities and limited waning or effectiveness against severe disease or death against Delta, including in older populations not at clinical risk. In other studies3, a sub-analysis from the Oxford-led COV001 and COV002 trials demonstrated a strong immune response induced by Vaxzevria following either a late second dose of up to 45 weeks or following a third booster dose. 

Antibody levels remain elevated from the baseline for at least one year following a single dose of Vaxzevria. However, without an established correlation of protection it is unknown how this correlates with long-term protection.

This data continues to reinforce the value of vaccination and builds on the body of evidence of real-world evidence on vaccine effectiveness. Current clinical trials will continue to monitor participants for efficacy and safety for a 12-month period. 

 

As an international company, how does AstraZeneca see the Egyptian market? What’s the volume of the company’s total investment and your future investment plan in the upcoming period?

Egypt remains a key country of focus for us, and we work closely with the local authorities to ensure uninterrupted access to innovative medication for patients.

Our priorities are aligned with Egypt’s national agenda, ensuring that we work hand-in-hand to tackle challenges within the healthcare sector, effectively playing our part in contributing to a robust healthcare ecosystem.

For over five decades, AstraZeneca has prided itself in successful presence in Egypt, today boasting 800 employees. We have a current capital investment of around $60 million, with expectation to increase by around 50% in the upcoming 3 years.

We are continuously and significantly increasing our footprint over the years through local partnerships and various programs to serve Egyptian patients. The company has spent around $75 million in the past 3 years, while we strive to bring innovative solutions to patients, in addition to supporting the healthcare ecosystem.

We achieve this by supporting the governments’ efforts in infrastructure upgrades and continuous medical education for healthcare professionals. With our focused expansion efforts, we are planning to spend around $120 million in the upcoming 3 years to bring in more innovation to the Egyptian market whilst it continues to grow steadily and offer great opportunities to capitalize on.

 

How do you assess Egypt’s strategy to vaccinate its people?

The Egyptian government has put a lot of efforts in the past few months to scale up its vaccination rates and reach millions of people. The authorities have opened vaccination centers in a short period of time that have the capacity to vaccinate thousands of people per day, and the government is constantly encouraging the public to register to take their shots through various local initiatives.

The fight against a global pandemic of this scale requires collaborative work, and we are delighted to play our part in the acceleration of the mass vaccination campaign through the continuous delivery of our vaccine to protect Egyptians and help the country achieve its targets.

We look forward to further strengthening our successful partnership with the government and our COVAX partners to further vaccination rates and allow a return to normal the soonest possible.

 

The company has a factory in 6th October City. What is the production capacity of it? Are there any plans to raise the capacity in the upcoming period?

Our manufacturing plant in 6th October City has a production capacity of 900 million tablets per year across all our brands, and we are looking forward to increasing local production in the upcoming year. Manufacturing in Egypt comes under our commitment to support the local healthcare system and is representative of our investment in the region.