CAIRO: The Egyptian government has said it is necessary to unite African efforts to confront the coronavirus and limit its health, social and economic effects on the continent’s people.

Mohamed Maait, the Egyptian Minister of Finance and chairman of the General Assembly of the African Export-Import Bank, backed the bank’s view on the need for African countries to cooperate in financing a coronavirus vaccine — at an estimated cost of $4 billion in Egypt and South Africa.

During his meeting with Benedict Oramah, chairman of the board of directors of the African Export-Import Bank, and his accompanying delegation, the minister affirmed the Egyptian government’s keenness to enhance economic cooperation with African countries. This included African integration as the main pillar for maximizing capabilities and supporting development efforts to meet the aspirations of the African people and revitalize intra-African trade.

The African Export-Import Bank is a multilateral African Trade Finance Corporation. It was established in 1993 under the auspices of the African Development Bank and its vision is to be a commercial finance bank for Africa. It aims to diversify African trade and increase its share in world trade.

A member of the Scientific Committee to Combat Coronavirus in Egypt, Ahmed Zananiri said that the African continent had an important role to play in participating in a vaccine trial for COVID-19. Volunteers were injected with doses developed by the University of Oxford in Britain, at a time when officials there said that 1.3 billion people in the continent could not be sacrificed.

Zananiri said that about a third of the confirmed coronavirus cases in the continent were in South Africa, with about 106,000 cases, of which more than 2,100 died.

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On Tuesday evening, the largest city in South Africa, Johannesburg, announced its highest daily death toll so far, of 111 people. There are about 325,000 cases in Africa.

Countries are easing restrictions due to economic pressure on citizens who want to feed their families, while the continent suffers from a shortage of medical examination materials and medical supplies, and therefore it was logical to unite the efforts of the continent to produce a vaccine for this virus, he said.

Selim Abdel Rahim, a specialized doctor in the National Research Center, confirmed that Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa all have highly advanced capabilities to conduct clinical trials, whether against the coronavirus or any other virus, because Africa is a continent that has suffered many virus outbreaks.

Last February, only two African countries could conduct coronavirus tests. The continent recorded its first case of the virus on Feb. 14. Now all 54 of the continent’s countries may be fully prepared to detect the conduct virus tests for the infected.

Abdel Rahim added that African heads of state pledged in 2001 to devote at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to improve health sectors in the countries of the continent, noting that so far this goal has only been achieved in five out for 54 countries, among them Egypt and South Africa.

“Africa has a lot of experience, but its scientists often go to other countries due to the lack of investment, and therefore research on health issues does not receive enough attention. Those who stay behind from the scientists find it difficult to organize partnerships for their research and experiences, because those who sponsor such projects often go to countries where the health care infrastructure is reliable, and this means that most of the experiments are taking place in Egypt and South Africa,” he said.

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