Sputnik V vaccine
A vial of the Russian Sputnik V anti COVID-19 vaccine. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Egypt's pharmaceutical authority on Wednesday approved the use of the Sputnik V and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines, a month after the North African country kicked off its inoculation campaign.

The drug body had "provided emergency authorisation for the use of the two vaccines, Sputnik V, and AstraZeneca... imported from South Korea", it said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The agency had previously given emergency authorisation for the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and the AstraZeneca jab produced in India and marketed under the name Covishield, it added.

Russia's sovereign wealth fund RDIF said in a statement that "Egypt is the 35th country in the world to approve Sputnik V".

Egypt began its COVID-19 immunisation programme on January 24, becoming one of the first countries in Africa to vaccinate its citizens, with a doctor and a nurse receiving the Sinopharm jab.

The Arab world's most populous country, with over 100 million people, received its first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine in December, and its first doses of the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine at the end of January.

Egypt has officially registered more than 179,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and over 10,400 deaths.

Health officials have warned that low testing rates mean the real number could be at least 10 times higher.