Morocco is hoping to launch an ambitious vaccination campaign against the coronavirus by the end of the year. However, efforts have sparked suspicion and rumors in the country, hard-hit by the global pandemic.
Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb said the move is to prevent the health system from been overwhelmed.
"The fact that we chose to have a vaccination campaign for a short period of time means that we are trying to go back to normal and also to allow the recovery of certain sectors that are suffering. As well as to prevent the saturation of the health system so that it doesn't reach its total capacity", Taleb said.
The North African nation is hoping to vaccinate 20 million adults within three months. It hopes to use vaccines from China's Sinopharm and a UK-sourced shot developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
"The Chinese vaccine should not be stigmatized, as Sinopharm is one of the best companies that exist worldwide. It is the seventh largest producer of vaccines internationally. The vaccine that we have chosen is an inactivated one, it is one of the most conventional and safest methods. It is like the flu vaccine, the polio vaccine and the diphtheria vaccine. Those are inactivated vaccines that have been effective for years and years", he added.
Rumors that the vaccination would be mandatory in the country was denied by the ministry. The health minister said the vaccination in Morocco will depend on when the vaccines are certified for use, and delivered on schedule.
The death rate has been relatively low at around 1.7 percent of recorded cases.
But in the port city of Casablanca, the heart-beat of the Moroccan economy, under-staffed hospitals are feeling the pinch.
Over-worked medical staff, on the front lines of the pandemic since March, are showing signs of exhaustion. But the government is hoping that by mobilizing 12,750 medics from the public and private sectors, military doctors and the Moroccan Red Crescent, it will be able to hit its target for vaccinations.