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Egypt arrests 3 over thousands of dumped COVID vaccines

Egyptian authorities arrest three people accused of dumping thousands of unused Covid-19 vaccine shots found last week in a water drain in a southern city, the public prosecution says.

“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),” the prosecution says in a statement posted on its social media accounts.

The statement says 13,412 doses had been found dumped but were unfit for use due to poor storage conditions and insufficient cooling. Another 4,988 doses had also been lost.

It does not identify the type of vaccines involved.

Minya governorate is more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Cairo.

The three people detained are a pharmacist, a driver and a storage inspector all working with the health ministry.

They face charges of “gross negligence” and “misappropriation of public funds,” according to the public prosecution.

The three will be detained pending investigations, the prosecution adds.

Last week, social media was abuzz with images of the abandoned vaccines, with many online users calling for accountability.

Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad said last week that Egypt, the most populous Arab country with over 100 million people, has so far fully vaccinated nearly seven million people.

Daily virus cases have been steadily rising in recent weeks with the toll inching over 312,000, including more than 17,000 deaths.

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