Egypt’s pharmaceutical company Minapharm and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) agreed on Thursday to manufacture over 40 million doses annually of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Cairo.
According to a joint official statement, Minapharm, the regional leader in recombinant DNA, and its Berlin-based subsidiary PrioBioGen AG and the RDIF plan to begin the technology transfer for the immediate manufacturing of the vaccine, with the rollout expected in the third quarter of 2021.
They will initially supply over 40 million doses per year through the Egyptian firm’s biotech facility in Cairo for global distribution.
The statement said that the Russian vaccine has been registered in 61 countries globally to cover more than three billion people.
It has an efficacy rate of 97.6 percent based on an analysis of data on the infection rate among those in Russia who received the doses of the vaccine.
Egypt approved in February the emergency use of Sputnik V, making it the third vaccine to be authorised for use in the country after the Chinese Sinopharm and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.
Thursday’s announcement comes days after Egypt discussed with Russia’s Ambassador to Cairo Georgy Borisenko the possibility to locally manufacture the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine.
It comes under a plan to meet Egypt's vaccination needs and pave the way for the country to export vaccine doses to African states.
Sputnik V is set to be the second vaccine to be manufactured locally in Egypt, after Egypt signed a deal to locally produce the Chinese Sinovac vaccine through its state-owned vaccine marker Vacsera, which officials say can produce 80 million doses annually.
Some of the doses will be exported to Africa.
Egypt began vaccinating medical staff in January then priority groups in March under a wide rollout of the vaccination program.
The government is seeking to secure vaccines for the populous nation as it continues to expand its immunisation program.
Egypt has already received around 650,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine in the past few months, which it currently administers with the AstraZeneca jab.
The country has so far received over 1.5 million doses, with more deliveries expected in the upcoming months.
Around 1.1 million citizens from all categories have registered online to receive the vaccine, with the number of those vaccinated estimated at over 320,000 since the launch of the immunisation program, according to health ministry officials earlier this month.