According to the public prosecution, Egyptian officials arrested three people accused of dumping thousands of unused COVID-19 vaccination needles found in a water drain in a southern city last week.
“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 announced late Sunday on social media.
According to the statement, 13,412 dosages were discovered abandoned but were unsafe for use due to insufficient cooling and poor storage conditions. Another 4,988 doses had gone missing.
It didn’t specify which immunizations were involved.
Cairo is more than 200 kilometres (124 miles) away from Minya governorate.
A pharmacist, a driver, and a storage inspector, all of whom worked for the health ministry, were detained.
According to Egypt’s public prosecution, they are accused of “gross negligence” and “misappropriation of public funds.”
The three would be held in custody awaiting the outcome of the investigation, according to the prosecution.
Last week, photographs of the abandoned immunizations went viral on social media, prompting many online users to demand accountability.
Egypt, the most populous Arab country with almost 100 million people, has vaccinated nearly seven million people, according to Cabinet spokeswoman Nader Saad.
In recent weeks, the number of daily viral cases has gradually increased, with the total number of cases surpassing 312,000, including more than 17,000 deaths.