Morocco’s Minister of Health, Khalid Ait Taleb, has finally publicly announced which COVID-19 vaccine the country will use in its upcoming national vaccination campaign.
The recent speculations of citizens and media have proven true and Morocco will use the COVID-19 vaccine that Chinese pharmaceutical group Sinopharm has developed.
Ait Taleb made the announcement during a meeting of the National Technical Vaccination Committee on Friday, December 4, in Rabat. The meeting aimed to answer technical questions relating to the upcoming vaccination campaign.
First announced on November 9, the campaign is set to begin “very soon.” The final logistical preparations are underway, the minister said.
He recalled 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 Morocco.
“We need at least 60% of the population to get vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity,” he announced.
Morocco’s health authorities are currently distributing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the regional level. Regional health directorates will soon begin local distribution of the vaccine.
Despite the upcoming large-scale vaccination campaign, Ait Taleb called on Moroccans to continue respecting preventive measures against COVID-19.
During Friday’s 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.
Meanwhile, Moulay Said Afif, a member of the committee and the president of the Moroccan Society of Medical Sciences (SMSM) and the National Health Federation (FNS), noted that the vaccine is efficient.
He gave the examples of China and the United Arab Emirates, where Sinopharm’s vaccine has been used on more than one million people.
Afif assured that during the vaccine’s clinical trials, in which Morocco participated, researchers did not observe any serious side effects. The most notable undesired effects were redness and pain at the injection site and migraines.
Urging citizens to participate in the vaccination campaign, the doctor said that vaccination remains the only way to face the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve herd immunity, since there is still no effective treatment against the disease.