Morocco shuns Pfizer-BioNTech, takes delivery of Chinese covid-19 vaccine
London, Dec. 6, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Morocco will become the first African country to vaccinate her citizen against covid-19 with the newly developed coronavirus vaccines.
But the north African country has opted for the relatively unknown Chinese vaccine developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical group Sinopharm, rather than the widely reported Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine already aproved by both the United Kingdom and the Islamic Republic of Bahrain
China has five home-grown vaccine candidates in phase three trials, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That’s usually the last step before government regulators vet the vaccine for approval.
Sinopharm, or China National Pharmaceutical Group, reportedly submitted an application to Chinese authorities last week seeking approval. The firm has two vaccine candidates, but it’s unclear if both are being considered for regulatory approval.
Morocco’s Minister of Health, Khalid Ait Taleb publicly announced the Chinese vaccine as the preferred choice the for the country in its upcoming national vaccination campaign during a meeting of the National Technical Vaccination Committee on Friday, December 4, in Rabat
He further announced that Morocco’s health authorities were currently distributing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the regional level adding that Regional health directorates will soon begin local distribution of the vaccine.
The minister made it clear that health professionals, local authorities, security officers, teachers, and vulnerable segments of the population will be the first beneficiaries of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine.
Ait Taleb urged Moroccan citizens and residents to participate in the vaccination campaign to achieve herd immunity in the country
“We need at least 60% of the population to get vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity,” he announced.
During the meeting, the President of the National Technical Vaccination Committee, Moulay Tahar Alaoui, emphasized the role that the national campaign will play in reducing coronavirus-related deaths.
The medical expert assured citizens that Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe, as it was subject to several studies around the world.
However, he stressed the necessity to maintain preventive measures even after the launch of the campaign, particularly the wearing of face masks and social distancing
Mohamed Lyagoubi, a member of the committee and a professor at the Medical School of Rabat, admitted that clinical trials were quick. But he assured that all trial stages “were scrupulously respected” and that the trials were “quick but not hasty.”
“There are techniques to make the [trial] phases faster, namely the overlapping and real-time processing of data relating to each phase, but there was no rush at any time,” Lyagoubi explained.