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Vaccine storage boosts African supply chain

By WANG XIAOYU | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-27 09:22
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A China-aided automated and refrigerated vaccine storage complex with a capacity of up to 150 million doses was put into operation on Saturday in Egypt's 6th of October City, providing a major boost to the country and Africa's vaccine supply chain, according to officials and vaccine developers.

On the same day, 10 million COVID-19 vaccines were gifted by the Chinese government to Egypt. The batch, made by domestic company Sinovac Biotech, was the first to be handled by the new facility and will be provided to Egyptian women, children and teenagers.

Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping, said in a reply letter to her Egyptian counterpart Entissar Amer that China and Egypt have cooperated to overcome difficulties since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, demonstrating the deep relationship between the two countries. She hoped that the latest donation of vaccines would assist Egyptian women and the country's young population in getting through the trying times.

Zhang Tao, charge d'affaires of the Chinese embassy in Egypt, read the letter at the handover ceremony held in Egypt on Saturday.

The consignment is part of China's pledge made in late November to provide 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines to Africa, according to officials.

Ground was broken on the newly built cooling storage complex in April. Covering 2,800 square meters, it is fully automated and capable of reducing operating costs while ensuring the safety of vaccines in storage, according to Sinovac Biotech, who partnered with Egyptian vaccine producer Vascera to build the facility.

"The cold storage complex is Egypt's and Africa's largest vaccine storage center. It is expected to significantly improve the country's capability in storing and transporting vaccines via cold chain, and further improve Africa's vaccine supply chain," Sinovac said.

Africa's first joint vaccine production line operating in partnership with Chinese companies is also located in Egypt. So far, the plant has manufactured 40 million doses, Zhang said during the ceremony.

"We are willing to further expand joint manufacturing with Egypt, and help Egypt become the hub of vaccine production in Africa, so as to enhance vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries," he said.

Zhang added that the storage center, with its large capacity and advanced automation, will play an important role in elevating Egypt as a regional hub for vaccine manufacturing and boost Africa's fight against COVID-19 disease.

From late November to August, China provided 189 million COVID-19 doses to 27 African countries, China International Development Cooperation Agency said during an interview with Xinhua News Agency on Aug 23.

China has also dispatched more than 332 healthcare workers to 19 countries in Africa and helped train about 3,600 local medical workers. The China-aided headquarters for the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, is expected to be completed and open next year.

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