Morocco’s King Mohammed VI became the first in his country to receive a COVID vaccination, setting the tone for a national campaign that aims to protect 80 percent of the population.
The king rolled up his sleeve and got his shot at the Royal Palace in Fez on Thursday, according to a statement from the government. Morocco is the first African country to begin vaccinations.
The goal of the Moroccan campaign is to protect some 33 million people, thereby reducing COVID infections and curbing transmission “with a view to a gradual return to normal life.”
Morocco has about 2.5 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, according to a News 24 report. Most of them are the AstraZeneca product made in India with 500,000 doses bought from China’s Sinopharm. Both versions can be used without the restrictive cold-storage requirements of some other COVID vaccines.
The leadership from King Mohammed VI stands in contrast to the skepticism and denial of President John Magufuli, who earlier this week spoke out against the vaccines and called them dangerous. Magufuli’s remarks drew a swift response from the World Health Organization and other African public health leaders.
“The second wave of the pandemic is very aggressive now. We are recording more than 32,000 cases of COVID-19 (each) day in Africa, and we’ve not yet peaked,” said John Nkengasong, head of the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are not yet out of the woods. We need to vaccinate to protect ourselves and our loved ones from dying.”
Image: Kingdom of Morocco/MAP