Egyptian authorities arrested three people accused of dumping thousands of unused Covid-19 vaccine jabs found last week in a water drain in a southern city, the public prosecution said.
“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 said late Sunday in a statement posted on its social media accounts.
The statement said 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 did not identify the type of vaccines involved. Minya governorate is more than 200km from Cairo.
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The three people detained were 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 would be detained pending investigations, the prosecution added.
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.