Morocco to build Covid-19 vaccine plant to meet 60 per cent of Africa's needs

Facility will help 'position the kingdom as a key biotechnology hub in Africa and the world'

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Morocco's King Mohammed VI attended the launch of a Covid-19 vaccine plant on Thursday.

The facility in Ben Slimane, which is expected to attract 200 million euros ($223 million) in investment but may eventually draw 500 million euros, will focus on pharmaceutical research efforts, clinical development, and the manufacturing and marketing of biopharmaceutical products.

It is slated to become Africa's largest “fill and finish” platform – where the drug is transferred to a sterile container – and one of the biggest in the world.

“This industrial unit is in line with the vision of His Majesty the king to position the kingdom as a key biotechnology hub in Africa and the world, capable of meeting the health needs of the continent in the short and long term,” the state news agency Map said.

Within the first three years, three types of Covid-19 vaccines made in the plant will cover 70 per cent of the kingdom’s needs, and more than 60 per cent of Africa’s demands.

Africa remains largely under-innoculated compared to other nations.

“Just 3 per cent of the almost 8 billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa and only 8 per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated compared with more than 60 per cent in many high-income countries,” the World Health Organisation said in December.

The plant will also manufacture non-Covid-19 vaccines and will have three industrial lines with a capacity of producing 116 million units by 2024, Map said.

”The projected investment is approximately 200 million Euros, and the start of production of the trial batches is scheduled for July 30, 2022.”

The Sensyo Pharmatech plant will help raise the country’s capacity for manufacturing the Chinese Covid-19 Sinopharm vaccine from three million doses per month to five million doses per month by February this year, Map said.

That number is set to increase “to more than 20 million doses per month by the end of 2022“.

”By 2025, Morocco will be able to produce more than 2 billion doses of vaccine,” Map said.

Also on Thursday, Morocco reopened its airspace to and from the the country.

So far, more than 24.6 million people have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with the number of those fully vaccinated at more than 23 million.

Despite this, the number of daily cases in the country has started to increase for a third time since the start of the year.

Updated: January 28, 2022, 9:33 AM