Egypt Arrests Three for Dumping 18,400 Coronavirus Vaccine Doses
Egyptian authorities said Sunday they arrested three people for allegedly discarding 18,400 doses of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine in a water drain in the southern city of Minya in recent days.
“An investigative committee … found a shortage of 18,400 vaccine doses in the Minya health directorate storage inventory worth 5,023,200 pounds ($319,000),” Egypt’s public prosecution office announced in a statement posted to its official social media accounts on October 10.
Local villagers in Upper Egypt have found a large number of doses of the Chinese COVID-19 Sinopharm vaccine dumped on a small wastewater canal in a village of Bani Mazar city, Minya governorate.
— Egypt Today Magazine (@EgyptTodayMag) October 8, 2021
Egyptian government authorities found 13,412 doses dumped in or near the drainage ditch deemed “unfit for use due to poor storage conditions and insufficient cooling. Another 4,988 doses had also been lost,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) relayed, citing the statement.
Egypt’s public prosecution office did not specify the brand of coronavirus vaccine in question, “but an earlier official statement said they were made by China’s Sinopharm,” Reuters noted on October 10.
AFP identified the three suspects detained by Minya police for the alleged vaccine dumping as “a pharmacist, a driver, and a storage inspector all working with the health ministry.”
The trio faces criminal charges of “gross negligence” and “misappropriation of public funds,” Egypt’s public prosecution office said Sunday, adding that the men would remain in police detention pending further investigations.
Police arrested the health ministry workers after they provided “conflicting accounts” of the incident during an initial probe into the missing vaccines, Reuters revealed.
“The vaccines that were dumped went missing after being given by an authorized pharmacist to the driver of a Health Ministry vehicle to deliver to the Minya directorate,” Egypt’s office of public prosecution detailed.
Minya police launched its investigation into the alleged vaccine dumping after photos and videos circulated on social media last week appearing to show scores of white cartons containing vaccine vials scattered along the banks of a local water channel in Bani Mazar province. Bani Mazar is located 38 miles north of Minya governorate’s capital city, also named Minya, and roughly 124 miles south of Cairo.
Egypt received 300,000-dose shipments of China’s state-made coronavirus vaccine, Sinopharm, in February and March after accepting an initial 50,000-dose shipment from Beijing in December 2020.
Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed described the vaccine shipments in March as “a gift from China meant to bolster cooperation between the two nations in the fight against the virus.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said in February his country would require “at least 70 million shots of coronavirus vaccine to inoculate 30-35 million people.”