Morocco’s king orders free COVID-19 vaccine for all

King Mohammed VI orders all Moroccans should receive coronavirus vaccine for free.

RABAT - Morocco's King Mohammed VI ordered that all Moroccans should receive a coronavirus vaccine for free, the Royal palace said on Tuesday.

Morocco plans to roll out China's Sinopharm vaccine in the coming weeks as soon as its phase three trials are over, Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani told the media last month.

The country has also ordered doses from AstraZeneca and is in talks with other vaccine developers, he said.

The first injections could come within days, a Health Ministry official told media. Medical experts and health officials have appeared on television in recent weeks to promote the COVID-19 vaccines and encourage Moroccans to get immunized.

Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said Morocco is seeking vaccines from several sources because COVID vaccines are a scarce commodity and a single manufacturer’s production capacity is too limited to meet the needs of the whole world.

In the Moroccan trial of the Sinopharm vaccine, carried out in Casablanca and the capital Rabat from August through November, healthy volunteers received two separate doses of the vaccine.

In the advanced trial, volunteers either received the vaccine or a placebo. According to the health minister, early results have proven the vaccine to be “safe and effective” with no severe side effects reported.

As of Tuesday, Morocco, with a population of about 36 million, had seen 384,088 confirmed cases and 6,370 deaths. It has around 40,000 active cases.