Russian Envoy: Morocco Considering Russian Sputnik V Vaccine

Morocco is considering to register and distribute the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. Photo: The Gamaleya National Center/TASS

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Rabat – Morocco’s international trade agreements could turn the country into a vaccine hub to distribute the Russian vaccine globally, according to senior Russian official Artyom Tsinamdzgvrishvili.

He said Morocco could soon use and distribute the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, according to the head of Russia’s trade mission. Tsinamdzgvrishvili, who heads Moscow’s trade mission in Morocco, claims the country could become a “vaccine hub”  because of its free trade agreements and manufacturing capabilities.

Morocco is considering to register and distribute the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, according to Tsinamdzgvrishvili who spoke on the topic to Russian news agency TASS. In September, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), struck a deal with Moroccan pharmaceutical manufacturer Galenica to produce the Russian vaccine locally.

Vaccination campaign

Russian and Moroccan officials are now discussing whether Morocco will “formally register” the Russian vaccine. Once registered the vaccine could be used locally. Tsinamdzgvrishvili stated that Russia is ready to ship enough doses to “vaccinate more than 20 percent of Morocco’s population.”

Morocco has announced it will soon commence a national vaccination campaign, but has yet to elaborate on which vaccine the government intends to use. Morocco has established manufacturing and distribution agreements with several leading vaccine contenders, including the Russian vaccine and China’s Sinopharm vaccine which was considered a likely candidate.

Tsinamdzgvrishvili’s claims that Russia could feasibly distribute millions of doses to vaccinate one fifth of Morocco’s population match Morocco’s stated goal for the first phase of a national vaccination campaign.

International vaccine hub

Morocco could benefit from the Russian vaccine as an export product as well, promised the Russian envoy. Its manufacturing agreement with Galenica could allow Morocco to distribute the Russian vaccine “across the markets of other African countries where the company has longtime business ties and partners.” 

He added, “Morocco has free trade agreements with the EU, the US, Turkey, and several Arab and African nations. So the Moroccan manufacturing plant could become a hub for the distribution of the vaccine to other countries in the region.”

The Russian Sputnik V vaccine was the first vaccine to be formally announced globally. The announcement was widely criticized for rushing through the testing phases needed to determine safety. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed full confidence in the vaccine, however. Putin publicly stated that his own daughter had received the vaccine and that it is 92% effective

The Russian vaccine’s name hints at the national pride behind its development as it is named after the Soviet spacecraft that helped kickstart the space race in the 1960s.

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