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Updated 2 February 2021

Although the African continent lags behind countries like the UK and the US when it comes to kicking off the COVID-19 vaccination drive, Morocco is one step ahead of most other nations. Till now, it has approved the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca and Chinese Sinopharm vaccines and secured 65 million doses cumulatively.

Read on to know more about the Sinopharm vaccine in Morocco.

How does the Sinopharm vaccine work?

There are currently three prevalent types of vaccines being developed in regards to COVID-19. In layman’s terms, these are inactivated virus vaccine, weakened virus vaccine and mRNA vaccine.

Sinopharm relies on the older but tested inactivated virus technology, which involves taking dead coronavirus and injecting them into the body. The process essentially forces the body to produce antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Once vaccinated, the immune system will be able to respond to an infection of live coronaviruses. Antibodies can stick to and prevent the invading virus from entering the cells in the body.

How effective is the Sinopharm vaccine?

Based on the available data, the Sinopharm vaccine is reported to have 100 percent protection from moderate and severe forms of Covid-19. Its overall efficacy rate is 86 percent.

Dr. Walid Zaher, chief research officer and vaccine project leader of G42 Healthcare said that taking the vaccine will “prevent you completely from having any severe or moderate side effects from Covid-19.”

Furthermore, Sinopharm’s clinical trials have demonstrated that inactivated coronavirus injections do provide protection to people against Covid-19. However, there’s really no telling how long the protection will last.

There may be a possibility that the level of antibodies would drop over the course of months. But on the flip side, there’s a chance that the immune system would retain information on the coronavirus for years (or even decades) due to the special properties of the memory B cells.

Are there any known side effects?

According to Bahrain’s National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, the side effects associated with vaccination in volunteers include pain at the injection site, headache, high temperature or fatigue.

These symptoms are expected to last at most 24 hours. Furthermore, these side effects can easily be managed through the use of over-the-counter pain relievers.

Sinopharm vaccination in Morocco

The country had carried out clinical trials of the Sinopharm candidate last year, with plans to eventually start manufacturing the vaccine locally. Meanwhile, Morocco received its first consignment of half a million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China on 27 January.

Who’ll get the Sinopharm shots in Morocco and where?

The palace said the jabs will be available to all Moroccans aged 17 and above. However, healthcare workers aged 40 and above, security services including the police and Royal Armed Forces, and teaching staff over 45 years of age, will be administered the doses first. People over 75 years of age, as well as those living in areas with high COVID-19 rates, will be also given priority.

Those who receive a dose of Sinopharm vaccine should go back to the centre after 21 days for the second dose.

Vaccination areas and points have been set up in the form of units belonging to health centers. These health centres have vaccination stations where beneficiaries can come and get inoculated, as well as mobile units, which will move to hospitals, factories, administrations, university housing, or prisons to administer the doses.

How much will the Sinopharm vaccine cost?

The COVID vaccine will be available free of charge to all Moroccan citizens and residents.

Registering for the jabs

Eligible Moroccans can book their appointment here. They can also text the number of their identity card or residence permit, to 1717 to make an appointment and know their nearest vaccination center.

After the registration is done, people will receive a text message confirming the date of appointment and vaccination centre.