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Moroccans lament as Sinopharm's vaccines run up against EU barriers

Moroccans lament as Sinopharm's vaccines run up against EU barriers
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FADEL SENNA/AFP or licensors


Long deprived of travel because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Moroccans are happy that airlines are reopening but now face the barriers of the European health system like all those around the world who have had Chinese vaccines.

"I have the impression that this vaccine has become a visa. I have my visa but my vaccine is Chinese. It's as if I don't have a visa," lamented Moroccan columnist Karim Boukhari recently. 

Brussels has issued non-binding recommendations for entry into the European space, reducing travel for non-residents to "essential" trips and requiring vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) - AstraZeneca, Johnson&Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna.

To travel to countries aligned with European standards, those who have had other vaccines, such as China's Sinopharm and Sinovac or Russia's Sputnik V, must therefore, like the unvaccinated, test negative for Covid-19 and undergo the same quarantine measures as the unvaccinated.

"Visa holders are not automatically allowed to travel to France and must comply with the conditions of entry (....) with regard to vaccination," warned the French embassy in Morocco on its Twitter account. "An unfair decision," commented the semi-official website 360. 

Because Morocco, faced like many countries in the world with problems of cost and availability of vaccines, opted for Sinopharm by participating in clinical trials from the beginning of the pandemic.

Patriotic act

For Morocco, the pill is all the more bitter because the kingdom prides itself on its vaccination campaign, which in four months has made it possible to immunize 9.3 million people, including more than seven million with the two required doses, out of a population of 36 million, according to official statistics.

With the support of enthusiastic media coverage, getting vaccinated is presented as a patriotic act. 

In order to convince people, Moroccan authorities also emphasized the imperative condition to be vaccinated in order to travel. 

Once registered, choosing your vaccine is not an option: medical centers distribute doses according to arrivals, and the Sinopharm laboratory is the first supplier in the country.

The only consolation is that Morocco has launched its own internal "vaccine pass".

Having received two doses allows for exception from the restrictions imposed under the state of health emergency: night curfew, prohibition of travel between the country's cities, prohibition to leave the territory except by derogation, etc.

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