MORROCO – With the COVID-19 pandemic flagging weaknesses in the world’s pharma supply chain, contract manufacturer Recipharm is stepping up to help in Africa.

King Mohammed VI has presided over a ceremony, during which he signed deals that now allow Morocco to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines and other serums.

Morocco was among the world’s pioneers in vaccinating its population against Covid-19 and is now eager to start producing its own vaccines.

This project will allow us to produce the Covid vaccine, as well as other key vaccines, in our own country so that the kingdom can become self-sufficient and a leading biotechnology platform on the continent and in the world, within the fill and finish industry,” said the royal cabinet’s statement.

Health sovereignty

It also aims to provide the kingdom with complete and integrated industrial and biotechnological capacities, which will be dedicated to manufacturing vaccines in Morocco.

During this ceremony, several memorandums were signed. The first one was a cooperation agreement between the kingdom and the Chinese pharmaceutical group Sinopharm.

Morocco will soon start production of 5m doses of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine per month. It is expected that this capacity will gradually increase in the medium term.

The overall investment will represent US$500m, according to an agreement signed on 5 July by Mohamed Benchaâboune, the economic and finance minister, Recipharm’s CEO Marc Funk and billionaire Othman Benjelloun, the representative from the consortium of Moroccan banks.

The aim of the project is to establish vaccine manufacturing capacities in Morocco under the best possible conditions and develop, what appears to be, a Chinese-Moroccan pharmaceutical industry giant.

Finally, a contract that allows the Moroccan pharmaceutical laboratory Sothema’s filling facilities to be used to produce Covid-19 vaccines owned by the Chinese company Sinopharm was signed by Lamia Tazi, its CEO, and Khalid Ait Taleb, the health minister.

The company participated in Sinopharm’s Phase III clinical trials in Morocco.

Since the start of its vaccination campaign at the end of January, Morocco, which has a population of 36 million, has vaccinated more than 10 million people, 9.1 million of whom have already received the required two injections.

Elsewhere, Recipharm recently snared European clearance for its French factory and started producing Moderna’s mRNA vaccine there, the company said earlier this month.

The Moderna deal adds fuel to Recipharm’s global expansion plans, the company said. Recipharm also says it’s building out a safety stock of raw materials and finished product to make sure it meets pandemic orders.