Since the announcement of the mass coronavirus vaccination campaign, which is expected to begin in the coming days, several questions have been bothering Moroccans, particularly about the effectiveness of a “Chinese vaccine”.
Indeed, several remarks have been made regarding the choice made by Morocco, which has opted for a Chinese laboratory, Sinopharm, while American, Russian and European firms have reported very satisfactory clinical trials.
The question should not even be asked, according to Dr. Abdelafattah Chakib, specialist in infectious diseases at the CHU Ibn Rochd in Casablanca.
Invited to the webinar organized on Sunday by Hespress Fr on the vaccination campaign against Covid-19, Dr Chakib detailed for us the steps and criteria that led to this choice.
“It is customary that the country where a given virus has appeared is the first to work for the development of a vaccine if it has the means and structures to do so, of course”, he began by explaining that “as early as December 2029, China, which has efficient laboratories, managed in six days to determine the nature, family, specificities and genome of the corona virus, which it transmitted to the WHO”.
So, he says, the Chinese were the first to develop the vaccine, and published their work in world-renowned scientific journals, where they detailed the tests carried out on 7 different animals and the results obtained.
When Morocco began to think about its immunization strategy, the scientific committee was asked to lead the reflection, and as part of a proactive vision, it conducted a worldwide survey to discover that the Chinese vaccine is the only one with available and satisfactory health data, explains the specialist.
In this respect, he recalls previous experiences with other laboratories, notably American laboratories in the case of H1N1. “In general, when you go to these labs, they ask you to wait! Until when? Only they know. And in the case of H1N1, Morocco placed the order, and the vaccine never arrived, even though the epidemic has long since disappeared,” he says.
Based on this experience, continues Dr. Abdelfattah Chakib, Morocco took the lead, “and upon royal intervention, we were able to obtain the vaccine, as well as the opportunity to participate in phase III clinical trials, which is a first in the scientific history of the Kingdom”.
“And among the 600 Moroccan citizens who volunteered to participate in the clinical trials, there were no serious side effects. Some volunteers experienced only a few mild side effects, including a slight rise in temperature of short duration and a temporary redness at the vaccination site,” said the specialist.
If we had waited for Moderna or Pfizer, for example, to announce their vaccine before placing the order, we would have had to wait 7 to 8 months and more,” he says.
In conclusion, he says, in this approach undertaken by Morocco, everyone wins, in that “we will be able to have a safe and effective vaccine in time in the case of Morocco”.
Vaccinate yes, let your guard down no
The other guests of this meeting, namely Prof. Moulay Mustapha Ennaji, virologist and director of the virology laboratory at Hassan II University in Casablanca and Prof. Moulay Said Afif, president of the National Health Federation (FNS), president of the Moroccan Society of Medical Sciences, in turn discussed the need to join this campaign, the vaccine being the only way to promote a return to normal life in the country.
“Morocco will be one of the first countries in the world to vaccinate and protect its population. This will enable it to return to normal life and open up its economy and social life fairly quickly, whereas many countries will not be able to do so until much later, since they will only be able to acquire the vaccines after several months and in limited quantities,” they stressed.
According to the two professors, a massive adherence to vaccination will make it possible to protect people’s health and lives, limit or even avoid critical cases and covid deaths until the epidemic is completely under control, relieve already saturated health care services, and establish herd immunity (herd immunity).
He explains that herd immunity “protects all citizens, including those who could not be vaccinated for various reasons related to age, health status or immunity”.
However, they called on citizens not to view the vaccine as a panacea that will immediately eradicate the disease, urging them not to lower their guard and to continue to respect the barrier gestures until the pandemic is completely under control.