Exclusive: Alliance led by Sisi consultant monopolises covid testing in Egypt

Last July, the Egyptian Ministry of Health decided to assign taking medical swabs for coronavirus (COVID-19) detection to private labs called Speed Medical by direct order, besides securing the approval of the Supreme Council of University Hospitals. Up until then, Speed Medical was not an entity of any value, but since then, the labs have expanded to eat up the medical analysis sector in Egypt.

Several days ago, Speed Medical sent an official letter, of which Egypt Watch obtained a copy, to the Egyptian Exchange notifying it that it intends to construct 200 branches of new medical labs under the name, Egypt’s Labs for Egypt’s People. Their goal is to open 400 branches all over the Republic after completing the targeted current expansions to hit the 200-lab milestone. The cost of the first 100 labs will be EGP 150 million within a year.

The letter explained that the labs will be affiliated to a new entity under the existing alliance between Egypt Prime and Speed Medical under the name, Egypt Labs Co. Speed Medical will get 30 per cent of the company’s shares; Prime Group will get the same, while the rest goes to Engineer Tamer Wajeeh, businessmen Mahmoud Farrag and Ayman Sabry Abdel Gaied, and others.

Prime Speed Medical was founded in April, less than a month after the coronavirus pandemic spread to Egypt. Several days after its foundation, the company contracted to buy 4 million tests and detectors of diseases and viruses from the American Company Cellex Incorporated, before becoming the sole exclusive distributor for the company in Egypt a few days later.

Cellex Incorporated is the only company with the American FDA certificate in the world whose labs produce complicated laboratory tests with fast detectors and viral antibodies tests, including tests for coronavirus and its antibodies.

Afterwards, the Egyptian government assigned the coronavirus tests’ service to the new entity by direct order, which was followed by securing a contract with the Football League to take coronavirus swabs inside the clubs.A centre for the coronavirus swabs belonging to Prime Speed was set up at Ain Shams University Hospital. The centre is under the name Drive-Thru, and six other centres similar to this were established in Cairo.

The new entity that did not previously possess more than 14 branches is expanding with lightning speed as it took over the entire shares of City Labs and all its labs inside Egypt, then the entire shares of the Hayah Labs with all its branches, followed by Egypt Labs.

But…What is Prime Speed Medical?

It is an entity established through a partnership between Speed Medical Co. and Egypt Prime Group last April, less than a month after the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Egypt, and with a capital of $4 million.

The first entity belongs to businessman Mahmoud Lasheen, a member of the Lasheen family, well-known for its plastic factories. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Cleopatra Hospital that was possessed by his family before it was sold to Capital Towers Group in 2015 because of its losses. Afterwards, Lasheen founded Speed Labs with only 14 branches.

As for the Prime Group, it is a huge investment whose Board of Directors is headed by Shireen el-Kady, who used to work as a consultant at the Information and Decision Support Centre at the cabinet. The group consists of a large number of companies and entities, Royal Resource, whose Board of Directors is chaired by the former Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy, and one of its members is former Minister of Military Production General Sayed Meshaal.

As for the medical arm called Prime Pharma that partnered with Speed Medical, it is headed by Tamer Wajeeh, the member of the Executive Bureau of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s presidential campaign, the founder of al-Riyadah Party that was quickly merged into the Freedom Party, a former member of the Board of Directors of Banque du Caire, member of the Saudi-Egyptian and Emirati-Egyptian Business Councils, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Volunteer Society, to which the Tahya Misr Fund has assigned the Hepatitis C virus treatment project, besides being the main partner in the exclusive agency of selling tickets for the World Cup last year and the coordinator of the trips to Russia to attend the championship.

The features of this alliance eating up the medical analyses market in Egypt, after it monopolised the coronavirus tests, became clearer after they raised the price of a test to EGP 3,000 ($190), whereas the cost for a single swab does not exceed $2 in the manufacturing countries.