Covid-19: cold chain, vaccine quality … Responses from the Public Health Director of the Ministry of Health

Terms, duration, costs, adverse effects of the anti-Covid-19 vaccine. The magazine “Bab”, published by the MAP news agency, sought answers to these questions from the director of the population of the Ministry of Health, Abdelhakim Yahyane.

Where are the clinical trials for the Chinese vaccine?

Phase III clinical trials, part of which took place in Morocco with the participation of 600 volunteers, have just been completed and the data is being used in coordination with the China side and all stakeholders.

What about possible side effects? Can we say the vaccine is 100% safe?

Always watch out for rumors. All available data shows that this is a promising vaccine and no major side effects have been recorded to date.

When does the vaccination campaign start?

Available soon. In the coming weeks.

How many doses are these?

I cannot give you an exact figure, but approximately it will be an initial contribution of 10 million doses ordered from the SinoPharm laboratory. This vaccine is in the form of pre-filled syringes and the vaccination schedule provides for two injections per person 21 days apart. So we are talking about about 5 million individuals who will benefit from the next vaccination campaign, based, of course, on the hypothesis of 10 million doses received.

How long will the massive vaccination campaign last?

We make sure it is as short as possible. The duration will depend on the speed of delivery, the number of doses we receive under the first tranche, etc. Deliveries are made as and when. So we cannot at this point decide how long the operation will take.

How will this campaign be rolled out on a regional scale?

All regions will receive their share of the vaccine, depending on the identified target group. A map of the population to be vaccinated will be drawn up and on this basis the campaign will take place in each region. Of course, in accordance with the Royal High Guidelines, priority will be given to frontline personnel, in this case health personnel, public authorities, security forces and national education personnel, as well as the elderly and vulnerable to the virus.

Is the vaccine 100% free? How much did it cost the state budget?

Until now, we have opted for the principle of a free vaccine. As for the costs, these have not yet been accurately determined, because we urgently need to protect the health of the citizens. This has the highest priority.

Who in the field will take care of this massive vaccination mission?

The operation will be carried out by all executives and competent services of the Ministry of Health, who are also used to conduct vaccination campaigns. In fact, it is their core business and it is an important benefit to us to the success of this national campaign.

What about the logistics aspect (transport, cold chain, storage, etc.)?

Unlike other vaccines, the vaccine developed by SinoPharm does not need to be stored at very low temperatures. It can be stored between +2 and +8 degrees Celsius, in other words, as an ordinary vaccine. All the necessary logistics are used: refrigerated trucks, insulated boxes, refrigerators … In short, the quality of the vaccine in terms of the cold chain is guaranteed.

Why choose these two suppliers (SinoPharm and AstraZeneca)?

As you know, there is a global race today for the acquisition of the anti-Covid-19 vaccine. The supply is very limited while the demand is enormous. Producers cannot deliver all over the world in one go. In this context and to avoid a problem with out of print products, Morocco has diversified its suppliers, in this case SinoPharm and AstraZeneca. This was precisely the purpose of the agreements that the Minister of Health previously signed with these two groups.

Will Morocco be able to produce the vaccine itself?

First it is imported. Local production will start soon. But for the needs of the announced vaccination campaign, we will use the vaccine that will be sent to us from the manufacturing sites (China for SinoPharm and UK for AstraZeneca).

What is the purpose of the mass vaccination campaign? Is it to achieve collective immunity or to reduce the number of deaths and severe cases?

The overall goal is to achieve collective immunity by reaching 80% of the population. But most of all, it’s a matter of stopping the spread of the virus, cleaning up intensive care, easing the health system, and reducing deaths. At the same time, massive vaccination will make it possible to restart the economic machine, because sick or incarcerated people, of course, cannot work, leading to a decrease in productivity.

So the stakes are twofold: firstly, to protect the health of citizens, to reduce the number of hospital admissions and stays in intensive care and to reduce the number of deaths, and secondly, to revive the economy as is from the moment people will be protected and reassured about their health that they can participate fully and effectively in economic life.

The Ministry of Health has just launched a communication campaign about this large-scale vaccination operation. What is the scope?

The main goal is to combat fake news by raising awareness and encouraging them to only use information from official sources at first glance. The media plays a key role in this regard. Certain electronic sites create doubt and confusion by publishing information that is not from or attributed to anonymous sources. The Moroccan citizen should be wary of this type of content and cultivate the reflex to seek the information, the real one, from official sources. In a way, you have to be vaccinated against Covid-19, but also against fake news, a virus that is no less dangerous!

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