Former Arab League chief: youth driving Middle East change against bad governments

Amr Moussa says the region will change dramatically again over next five years. (AFP/File photo)
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Updated 21 January 2020

Former Arab League chief: youth driving Middle East change against bad governments

  • Amr Moussa says the region will change dramatically again over next five years
  • Aspirations of young people driving calls for change against bad management

DAVOS: Young people in the Middle East are continuing to drive change in the region against “bad governments,” the former Arab League chief said on Tuesday.

Speaking to Arab News at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Amr Moussa, who was the Arab League’s secretary general from 2001 to 2011, said the Middle East will go through major changes in the next five years.

The changes will take place “thanks to the young people, thanks to their aspirations, thanks to the 21st Century, and thanks to the changes that have taken place as a result of these uprisings,” he said.

Over the past three months, the region has witnessed predominantly youth-driven protests in Iraq and Lebanon. Demonstrators have railed against the political elites, called for improved services and an end to sectarian systems of government. Large demonstrations have also taken place in Iran against the clerical regime, and last year huge protests in Sudan and Algeria brought an end to long-serving authoritarian rulers.

“The uprisings or the revolutions against the bad governments, the bad management of the citizens, of the people, and that’s why this is going on,” Moussa, who was also Egypt’s foreign minister from 1991 until 2001, said. “It is also because of the aspirations to change, this is the 21st century, the young people aspire to so many new things. They want movement, motion, change, these are also very legitimate aspirations.

“We haven’t achieved much yet but the Middle East is going through change.”

Moussa’s tenure at the Arab League ended as the Arab Spring uprisings rocked the region, bringing down governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, and sparking conflicts in Syria and Libya.

Since October, around 460 people have been killed and another 25,000 wounded in Iraq amid a brutal response to the protests by the security forces. In Lebanon, three people have been killed and hundreds injured, with violence peaking at the weekend. 

Egypt sets virus vaccine target

Updated 36 min 35 sec ago

Egypt sets virus vaccine target

  • Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days

CAIRO: Assistant Health Minister and Coordinator of the Anti-COVID-19 Scientific Committee Ihab Kamal said that 842 people have volunteered in just one week to take part in Egypt’s coronavirus vaccine trials.

About 332 have been admitted in accordance with the health ministry’s requirements, which include being free from chronic disease.

Kamal said: “The number of volunteers until now is not low. We are working on raising the awareness of the citizens through various media platforms on the importance of the vaccine tests.” He added that the required number of volunteers is 6000.

He said the first two phases of the vaccine tests are complete and the third phase has begun. He added that volunteers are called for 21 days, pointing out that volunteers take a second dose in case they do not suffer any side effects. Kamal said the blood’s antibodies are measured throughout the year as part of the program.

Egyptian Minister of Health Hala Zayed announced on Thursday that she had launched the third and final phase of clinical trials on two vaccines developed by Egypt. She said the results of the two vaccine trials are positive so far.

Sources said that the Ministry of Health and the three centers taking part in the trials have received many applications. However, many of the applicants do not match the prerequisites, and therefore only 335 were accepted for the trials.

Zayed said in a press conference in Cairo that the current phase targets the participation of 6000 Egyptians. She said there are three places allocated for clinical trials.

Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days. After 45 days of the first dose, antibodies produced by the vaccine are measured to test their efficiency, Zayed said.

She said that national medical committees have been formed from civil and military bodies representing Egypt’s best medical experts.

She added that a committee will oversee conducting the clinical trials and that two vaccines out of seven have reached the third phase of clinical trials.

Zayed said that the first phase of the two vaccines included a test on a small group of 10 to 20 people with the aim of ensuring safety and also determining an appropriate dose. About 200 people took part in the second phase.

The third phase aimed included trials on 45,000 people from around the world, including 6,000 Egyptians.

The Ministry of Health and the company responsible for conducting the clinical trials explained the conditions that volunteers must follow to be eligible for tests.

They include an age bracket from 18 to 60 years old according to health condition. Registration must also be carried out using official documents. Volunteers must reside in Egypt or have valid residency documents during the trial period. Moreover, volunteers must sign an “informed consent” form prior to taking part in the trial.

There are a number of health conditions that prevent volunteers from taking part in the trials, including suffering from the symptoms of fever, dry cough, exhaustion and gonorrhea during the 14 days that precede the tests.