Covid-19: Morocco on track to join elite club of vaccines’ producers
Morocco, which is taking the lead in the global fight against the coronavirus, is advancing resolutely towards becoming a main producer of vaccines including anti-covid jabs.
To secure its self-sufficiency and autonomy in vaccines which have become the hottest commodity on earth during the current global health crisis, the North African Kingdom has partnered with Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm to produce locally these vaccines and turn the Kingdom into an African hub for vaccine manufacturing and distribution.
On Monday, the Moroccan State signed cooperation agreements with the Chinese pharmaceutical group to produce covid-19 vaccine and other vaccines. The signing ceremony was chaired over by King Mohammed VI.
In a first stage, Morocco will start producing 5 million doses a month of China’s Sinopharm before progressively scaling up production. This landmark project, set within the frame of a public-private partnership (PPP), will enable the Kingdom to build an integrated biotechnological industry.
This $500 million project comes into being following the phone conversation held on August 31, 2020 between King Mohammed VI and President Xi Jinping of China.
Morocco took part in phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine developed by Sinopharm currently used in Moroccan vaccination campaign along with AstraZeneca produced in India.
In return for its participation in the final stage of testing of the Chinese vaccine, Morocco has been among the first countries which received the Chinese jabs.
The Chinese authorities had promised to help Morocco set up a plant for the production of covid-19 vaccines destined for exports to Africa.
Moroccan Health Minister Ait Taleb said that thanks to the exchange of experiences and expertise with Chinese doctors and consultants in this field, Morocco will acquire the know-how related to vaccine manufacturing.
He also said that the deal sealed with Sinopharm takes place within the frame of the Royal vision seeking to ensure vaccine sovereignty against the risks of emergence of new viral variants, scarcity of vaccines, and future epidemics.
The partnership with Sinopharm is part of Morocco’s roadmap set out to provide Covid-19 vaccines for its citizens, enable the country to produce locally vaccines for the national immunization campaign, and build a continental platform for scientific research and biotechnology.
Sinopharm CEO Liu Jingzhen said the Moroccan project will strengthen the health resilience of peoples of Morocco and Africa and contribute to the consolidation of the Sino-Moroccan friendship.
For his part, CEO of Swedish company Recipharm Marc Funk said the project of fill-finish manufacturing of anti-Covid19 vaccine and other vaccines in Morocco will support the country’s immunization campaigns, whether they are preventive, endemic or pandemic.
He also said that his company will contribute to the training of Moroccan teams and transfer its technologies in vaccine making and biotechnology.
Commenting this project, Samir Machour, an expert in biotechnology and vice president of Samsung Biologics, said the production of vaccines in Morocco will enable the country to set up a biopharmaceutical pole of excellence recognized globally and destined to serve the African continent.
The Swedish company Recipharm announced on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, that the production unit of anti-Covid-19 vaccines in Morocco, which will be installed on an area of 42 hectares, should be operational by 2023.
In a statement, Marc Funk, CEO of Recipharm, said that this project would offer Africa “an opportunity to gradually acquire health independence vis-à-vis Western countries and help ensure that the continent is less vulnerable in times of crisis.”
“We are well positioned to ensure successful technology transfer and high-quality manufacturing operations,” he said.
Morocco, which rolled out its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 in January, has inoculated more people against the virus than other African countries. It has administered so far over 19.2 million doses of the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines.
The country has received more than 21.4 million doses so far and plans to vaccinate everyone over the age of 17. Morocco has registered 534,797 covid-19 infections and 9,329 deaths due to the virus.