Morocco says Covid-19 vaccine will be free to all citizens

Morocco says Covid-19 vaccine will be free to all citizens

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI ordered that all Moroccans should receive a coronavirus vaccine for free, the Royal palace said on Tuesday.

Morocco plans to roll out China’s Sinopharm vaccine in the coming weeks as soon as its phase three trials are over, Prime Minister Saad Dine El Otmani told Reuters last month.

The country has also ordered doses from AstraZeneca and is in talks with other vaccine developers, he said.

“We will seek doses from three to four companies,” El Otmani said, without saying how much Morocco expected the programme to cost.

“The vaccination campaign will last at least three months,” he added.

As of Tuesday, Morocco, with a population of about 36 million, had seen 384,088 confirmed cases and 6,370 deaths.

It has around 40,000 active cases.

Morocco’s tourism-dependent economy has been hit hard by the pandemic with the economy expected to contract by up to 7%, according to the International Monetary Fund.

On December 4, the World Bank said it has approved a $400 million loan in support of Morocco’s reforms to strengthen the safety net for poorer households following the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding will support social assistance programmes including emergency cash transfers set up by Morocco through a special COVID-19 fund, the World Bank said in a statement.

Unemployment is expected to surge to 14.8% in 2020 from about 9.2% before the pandemic, the planning agency has said.

More than a third of Moroccan workers already work in unregistered businesses without social protection, doing manual labour or selling in the streets, accounting for 14% of GDP, according to the agency.

Morocco has announced a plan to reform social security in five years to guarantee health insurance, retirement pensions and unemployment compensation for everyone.

Morocco’s economy is expected to contract by up to 7% this year, the International Monetary Fund said.

Government debt is set to surge to 76.1% of GDP in 2020 from 65% in 2019, the Central Bank said.

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