As the USA and UK have started vaccinating the most vulnerable, other countries are racing to get hold of the first doses of approved vaccine. As the COVID-19 pandemic has not shown any signs of a slowdown yet, many countries are racing to develop and distribute their own vaccines in a bid to open up and avoid more social and economic suffering.
So far two vaccines have been approved in the USA and UK. The first is the Pfizer’s vaccine which is about 95 percent effective against COVID-19 after the second dose in adults aged 16+ years. Similar results have been reported by a vaccine from Moderna, which is about 94.1% effective against COVID-19 in people aged 18+ years. The main difference between these two vaccines is the storage conditions.The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius. Better conditions are achieved by Moderna vaccine which can be shipped and kept at a relatively higher temperature of -20 degrees. This makes Moderna’s vaccine more practical and cheaper for shipping, distribution, and use. A third vaccine is being developed by AstraZeneca and still going through clinical tests in the UK and US.
Few other countries have announced their own locally-developed vaccines namely Russia and China. In Russia, they are rolling out Sputnik V vaccine which is reported to be 94% effective. No independent studies or clinical data has been presented to back up these results. In China, a vaccine developed by the state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm has already been approved for emergency use in a few countries; although late-stage clinical trials using the vaccine are still conducted in 10 countries including Morocco which tested it on 600 Moroccans as part of clinical trials this autumn.
Late-stage clinical trials in the United Arab Emirates, have indicated that one of the Sinopharm’s vaccine strains is 86% effective. Another vaccine been touted in China is made by the private Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd. It worth noting that neither firms have presented any clinical data to backup the efficacy of these vaccines as reported by WSJ.
European Union, USA and UK are all racing to approve a series of Western-made vaccines. The World Health Organization (WTO) has cautioned about a fast rollout and recommended that new vaccines should first be tested thoroughly. The U.N. health agency has taken a more relaxed approach and left the decision to each country to decide whether there is an urgent domestic need to use a vaccine, even without high-standard clinical data.
Moroccan authorities have rolled out an ambitious program to vaccinate 80% of its adults against COVID19 using Sinopharm vaccine. This will be freely available to all Moroccans as state media announced. It is reported that Morocco has ordered 10 million doses of the unproven vaccine. This fast approach to promote Sinopharm vaccine has faced a lot of local skepticism in Morocco. Many are questioning the motives of promoting the vaccine which is not authorized by any Western country.
Against a backlash on social media by many Moroccans, the health minister announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory. Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani has also come out to reassure Moroccans of the high standards of the regulatory process for vaccine approval.
It was initially reported that the rollout will begin in early December, but the health minister said “we are doing our best to get it started in mid-December.”