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Egypt to start local production of Sinovac vaccine mid-June- minister

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CAIRO, June 7 (Reuters) - Egypt received 500,000 doses of China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine on monday, airport sources said, as the health ministry said local production of the Chinese vaccine will start in mid-June.

Egypt received raw materials for the production of two million Sinovac doses in May, after signing an agreement to produce the vaccine locally and distribute it in Egypt and other African countries.

The first vials are due to be produced on June 15 and up to six weeks will be needed for checks before they are put to use in vaccination centres, Health Minister Hala Zayed told the private MBC Masr TV channel late on Sunday.

Egypt expects raw materials for a further 4.2 million Sinovac doses this month, Zayed said, and aims to produce 40 million doses this year.

Cairo also expects to sign an agreement soon with an international company to produce a European vaccine in Egypt, Zayed said without elaborating. The cabinet said previously that Egypt is seeking to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine locally.

Egypt, which has received several million AstraZeneca and Sinopharm doses, has said it aims to vaccinate 40% of its population of just over 100 million by the end of 2021. (Reporting by Abdelnasser Abolfadl and Mahmoud Mourad; editing by Andrew Heavens)