Morocco acquires 65 million vaccine doses from China, UK

RABAT, Morocco (AP) - Morocco announced it has acquired 65 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinopharm in China and AstraZeneca in the UK as the North African kingdom prepares to roll out a COVID-19 vaccination program on Jan. % of the country to be vaccinated is adult population.
Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb announced the number at a cabinet meeting on Thursday. The government did not specify whether the vaccines were purchased or provided by Covax, the global project to provide vaccines to developing countries, or a combination of the two.
His ministry said Friday that Morocco has not yet received the vaccines.
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Mustapha Ennaji Moulay, head of the department of virology at Hassan II University in Casablanca and a member of the government's COVID-19 scientific committee, said regulators are reviewing documentation of the Sinopharm vaccine and that the vaccination program is expected to begin shortly Days.
Morocco has one of the most advanced vaccination plans in the region. The country has also reported the second highest number of viral infections and deaths in Africa after South Africa.
The Moroccan health minister said the government's goal is to vaccinate 25 million of the country's 36 million people, all for free on the orders of King Mohammed VI.
While the Moroccan government has been promising vaccinations since the beginning of this month, the minister said preparations are now at a "very advanced" stage. He said authorities were running simulations at all vaccination sites "to avoid obstacles that might arise while the vaccination program is being carried out".
In a first phase, the vaccine will be given to medical staff, government agencies, security services, educational workers and people with chronic diseases. The Ministry of Health said it used a computerized system to register the target group and track their health after receiving the vaccine.
According to Moulay, Morocco has tried to diversify the offer by signing contracts with several countries.
Morocco has announced that it will start its vaccination program with the Sinopharm vaccine, although it has not yet completed advanced studies to prove that it is safe and effective. The vaccine, which was tested in clinical trials on 600 Moroccans in the fall, has been approved for emergency use in some countries. The company is still conducting late-stage clinical trials in several countries.
Morocco's first shipments of vaccine will come from China, but Morocco also plans to manufacture the vaccine locally.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is still in advanced studies in countries like the UK and the US and has not yet been approved.
Morocco's daily virus caseload has fallen slightly in the past two weeks, but a drop in testing raises concerns that the virus may spread faster than reported.
As a preventive measure to contain the spread of the virus during the New Year celebrations, authorities have banned public and private gatherings, closed restaurants in major cities in the country and imposed a curfew that went into effect Wednesday evening and is said to last for three weeks.
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