Egypt receives second shipment of Chinese coronavirus vaccine

Workers offload pallets containing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine "Sinopharm" doses as they arrive from China at Cairo International Airport amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Cairo, Egypt February 23, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt received 300,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) in the early hours of Tuesday, the health ministry said in a statement.

The new batch from China was the second shipment of the Sinopharm vaccine to Egypt. The country received its first 50,000-dose shipment in December.

The North African country also got 50,000 doses of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca earlier in February as part of its programme to vaccinate health workers.

Egypt began vaccinating frontline medical staff against COVID-19 on Jan. 24 using the Chinese vaccine.

Egypt will open an online registration process next week for other groups eligible for vaccination, such as the elderly and patients with chronic diseases, Mostafa Ghoneima,‮ ‬a health minister assistant, told Reuters‮.‬

Vaccination of these groups will start with the arrival of more shipments of vaccines, he said at the Cairo airport upon the arrival of the latest shipment of Sinopharm vaccines.

As of Monday, Egypt had confirmed 178,774 coronavirus cases, including 10,404 deaths, since the start of the pandemic more than 10 months ago.

However, health officials say the real number is likely far higher because of the relatively low rate of coronavirus testing and the exclusion of private test results.

Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad and Mohamed Zaki; Editing by Himani Sarkar