CAIRO (AP) — Egypt on Saturday received a second shipment of coronavirus vaccine donated by China, officials said, as the Arab country tries to speed up its vaccination campaign.
The 300,000-dose shipment of the vaccine manufactured by China's state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm arrived at Cairo’s international airport early Saturday, according to the Health Ministry.
Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed said in a statement that the shipment was a gift from China meant to bolster cooperation between the two nations in the fight against the virus.
Egypt is among dozens of nations depending on China to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic, part of Beijing's vaccine diplomacy campaign that has been a surprising success.
He said the Egyptian Drug Authority would test the shipment before using it to vaccinate health care workers and elderly people as part of a vaccination campaign the government launched in January.
Egypt had previously received 350,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine as well as a shipment of 50,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The country has approved the emergency use of the two vaccines.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said last month his country needs at least 70 million shots of coronavirus vaccine to inoculate 30-35 million people.
The Egyptian government has reserved 100 million vaccine doses, including 40 million doses from COVAX, an international initiative to distribute vaccines to middle- and low-income countries, according to Health Minister Hala Zayed.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country with over 100 million people, has reported more than 194,127 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 11,512 deaths.
The actual number of COVID-19 cases, like elsewhere in the world, is thought to be far higher, in part due to limited testing.