In addition to public debate about the fairness of pricing, Moroccans are also waiting for news on which vaccine the country will use in its vaccination campaign.
Rabat – Rumors that Morocco will purchase Chinese COVID-19 vaccines at MAD 27 ($2.95) per dose are “unfounded,” according to the Ministry of Health. Rumors have circulated on social media alleging that Morocco arranged a price for the state’s purchase but did not yet fix a price for Moroccan citizens.
The government announced on November 9 will soon start a vaccination campaign against COVID-19 without specifying which vaccine it intends to use. Morocco has signed several agreements related to the distribution and manufacturing of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, as well as an agreement for participation in Sinopharm’s Phase III clinical trials.
Social media posts and users on messaging platforms had spread a message that read “Morocco will buy an anti-Covid-19 vaccine at the price of 27 DH per dose,” adding that “the selling price to citizens has still not been fixed.” These messages are “false information,” according to the Ministry of Health, which called for vigilance against “fake news and inaccurate data.”
Additionally, speculation about the origins of the vaccine for the national campaign has become a part of the national dialogue following the announcement of the large-scale vaccination program. Several vaccine candidates are now reaching the final stages of development with several multinational pharmaceutical companies offering different types of shots.
Western companies have produced promising vaccines in the laboratories of Pfizer and BioNtech, AstraZeneca, and Moderna, which are all in the late stages of testing. Several COVID-19 vaccines have also emerged in the East with Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
The vaccines from China and Russia have met with skepticism from the West, yet China has already vaccinated hundreds of thousands of its citizens. China’s data indicates the country has managed to keep its local COVID-19 epidemic under control. China now reports under a few dozen daily cases among its population of 1.4 billion people, a tremendous success that Morocco is likely to want to emulate.
Lack of information
Circulating rumors about Morocco’s possible COVID-19 vaccine candidate, including speculation on a Chinese candidate, are hardly surprising. After the sudden announcement of an impending national vaccination campaign, the Ministry of Health has largely failed to elaborate which vaccine it chose.
On November 17, the minister of health said trials of a COVID-19 vaccine on Moroccan volunteer subjects are proving “very positive,” adding that the results confirm the effectiveness and safety of the campaign’s vaccine. While Morocco agreed to participate in Sinopharm’s trials, the minister did not mention the company by name.
Government officials have said, however, that the national campaign will first focus on citizens that are either high-risk patients, medical personnel, or other front-line workers such as educators.
Morocco has publicly announced agreements to manufacture and distribute the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine against COVID-19. This vaccine is already in use to vaccinate diplomats and officials in the UAE and among China’s diplomatic core.
In the absence of public facts speculation has understandably run rife in Morocco. Denying rumors, like today’s statement aims to, only goes so far and citizens are pining for an accurate and complete government statement on its plan, chosen vaccine candidate, and any price it may cost Moroccan citizens.