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The New Arab Staff

Egypt to sell AstraZeneca vaccine to citizens ‘who can afford it’

Cairo plans to secure 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 February, 2021

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After vaccinating healthcare workers, the elderly and those with pre-existing illnesses, the government plans to sell the vaccine at a cost between 100-200 Egyptian pounds ($6.35-$12.70).

Egypt's government plans to sell shots of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine to citizens "who can afford it", sources from the health ministry have told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site.

On Sunday, Cairo received its first batch of the vaccine developed by the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant - some 50,000 doses - and aims to receive a total of 20 million.

After vaccinating healthcare workers, the elderly and those with pre-existing illnesses, the government plans to sell the vaccine at a cost between 100-200 Egyptian pounds ($6.35-$12.70), the sources said.

The government will give the vaccine for free to those it deems unable to afford it. Around 30 percent of Egyptians live below the national poverty line, according to official statistics last year.

Read also: Egypt to receive first AstraZeneca vaccines Sunday

With global supply deals indicating the vaccine price is somewhere between $3 to $4, the government could try to cover the cost of providing free shot to the poor by selling it to Egypt's better-off classes, a programme which the sources said could start in mid-February.

They expressed concern that adding a price tag to the vaccine could lead to the emergence of a black market for the vaccine with alternative prices, although it is not clear how this would emerge.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has an efficacy rate of about 70 percent, but unlike other shots it has the advantage of being stored at ordinary fridges temperatures.

Cairo started vaccinating healthcare workers using China's Sinopharm jabs on 24 January, the first doses of which were delivered in December.

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