Morocco to use Chinese vaccine to kick off mass Covid-19 vaccinations – world news

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Morocco is gearing up for an ambitious Covid-19 vaccination program, aiming to vaccinate 80% of its adults in an operation starting this month that’s relying to begin with on a Chinese vaccine that has not yet completed advanced trials to prove it is secure and effective.

The first injections could come inside days, a Health Ministry official told The Associated Press. Facing a public skeptical approximately the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness, medical experts and health officials have appeared on television in recent weeks to raise the Covid-19 vaccines and encourage Moroccans to receive immunized.

While Britain began its vaccination program Tuesday with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the U.S. and European Union are racing to approve a series of Western-made vaccines, other governments wish to use vaccines from China and Russia.

The World Health Association has said new vaccines will have to first be tested in tens of thousands of people to prove they work and don’t cause worrisome side effects before being rolled out broadly. But the U.N. health agency also says it’s is up to individual countries to come to a decision if there is an pressing domestic want to use a vaccine shot, even without such data.

Morocco is battling a resurgence in virus infections, with the number of recorded deaths from the virus surpassing 6,000. The North African kingdom is pinning its hopes on two vaccine candidates, one developed by China’s Sinopharm and the other by Britain’s Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

The Sinopharm vaccine has been approved for emergency use in a couple of countries and the company is still conducting late-stage clinical trials in 10 countries. The AstraZeneca vaccine is still in advanced trials in countries including Britain and the U.S. and hasn’t been approved yet.

Morocco’s government seeks to vaccinate 80% of its adults, or 25 million people, as soon as the vaccines are approved by domestic regulators. Precedence will go to medical staff and other front-line workers, in addition to the elderly.

It is going to start with the Sinopharm vaccine, which was once tested on 600 Moroccans as a part of clinical trials this autumn. Morocco has ordered 10 million doses of the vaccine.

The initial deliveries will come from China, but Morocco also plans to produce the vaccine in the neighborhood, Abdelhakim Yahyan, a senior official at the Ministry of Health, told the state-owned news agency MAP.

Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said Morocco is looking for vaccines from several sources because Covid vaccines are a scarce commodity and a unmarried manufacturer’s production capacity is too limited to meet the needs of the whole world.

In the Moroccan trial of the Sinopharm vaccine, carried out in Casablanca and the capital Rabat from August through November, healthy volunteers received two separate doses of the vaccine. In the advanced trial, volunteers either received the vaccine or a placebo. According to the health minister, early results have proven the vaccine to be “secure and effective” with no severe side effects reported.

Then again, some Moroccans have taken to social media to question the safety of the vaccine, with some noting that China was once the original epicenter of the pandemic or questioning how effective it’ll be.

Sinopharm’s shot relies on a tested technology, the usage of a killed virus to deliver the vaccine, very similar to how polio immunizations are made. Leading Western competitors, like the vaccine made by Oxford and AstraZeneca, use newer, less-proven technology to target the coronavirus’ spike protein.

In China, the state-owned Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG has provided the vaccine to 350,000 people out of doors its clinical trials, a top CNBG executive has said.

Critics in Morocco have also expressed concerns that citizens might be forced to take the vaccine, but the health minister insisted that Covid-19 vaccinations is probably not mandatory and will be free.

Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani has sought to reassure the vaccine-hesitant approximately the robustness of the country’s regulatory process for vaccine approval, saying that no corners have been cut in making certain the Chinese vaccine is secure to manage.

Morocco’s mass immunization operation will include 2,888 vaccination stations and the deployment of mobile units to vaccinate people at factories, offices, campuses and prisons. The health ministry said it would mobilize over 12,000 health professionals in addition to the military to verify rapid distribution.

The vaccine will be to be had in a first phase to those at highest risk of contracting the virus: health professionals, security personnel, fundamental workers at imperative sectors and people suffering from chronic diseases.

No exact date has been set for the rollout, but the health minister said “we are doing our best to receive it started in mid-December.”

One after the other, Morocco is expected to be among 92 low- and middle-income countries supported by Covax, an international effort to make certain that vaccine supplies reach developing countries, whether the group meets its underwriting targets, according to the World Health Association.

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