Egypt seeks to turn into a centre that manufactures coronavirus vaccines for other countries in the African continent, Health Minister Hala Zayed said, as the country's vaccine maker VACSERA started working on manufacturing the first batch of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine.
On Saturday, during a meeting in Cairo with a Chinese delegation for China's drug maker Sinovac, Zayed said Vacsera's firms have all the capabilities needed for the production process of the coronavirus vaccines.
"Vacsera will be serving as the main firm for the Chinese Sinovac Company in Africa," the health minister noted, as according to a statement released following the meeting.
The Chinese delegation arrived in Egypt on Friday after recieving a shipment carrying raw materials to produce two million doses of Sinovac vaccines. The shipment is part of a wider agreement that was signed in April to manufacture over 40 million Chinese doses annually via Vacsera's firms in Egypt.
The 40 million doses are expected to be produced by the end of 2021 as per the inked deal.
Zayed said the Chinese delegation's visit would last for three weeks until the first batch of the vaccines - two million shots - is produced.
Also according to Zayed, the production process includes several stages, starting from testing the raw materials by the Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA); packaging the vaccine; issuing the approval; carrying out stability studies and then conducting efficiency tests by the EDA.
The EDA has approved the emergency use of five vaccines: Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, CoronaVac and Covishield- AstraZeneca.
Minister Zayed highlighted the "unlimited" attention the Egyptian leadership is paying to produce vaccinations in order for Egypt to become a centre for manufacturing vaccines for African countries after fulfilling domestic needs.
Vacsera's laboratories and production lines have been revamped at a cost of EGP 750 million (nearly $48 million) provided by the government to keep pace with producing the vaccines, said the Egyptian minister.
According to a previous statement by Zayed, coordination is ongoing in an effort to locally manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine at VACSERA’s factories in 6 October city.
Egypt has received millions of coronavirus vaccines lately as it is ramping up the effort to vaccinate as much as possible from its 110 million-plus population.
Nearly two million have been vaccinated against the deadly virus in Egypt, out of a total of 3.5 million who have already registered to receive the inoculation via a website set up by the Egyptian Ministry of Health.
Egypt, which is seeing a surge in infections, due to a third wave of the pandemic, has registered a total of 252,690 cases, including 14,670 deaths and 186,223 recoveries.