Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Offers Hope to Kenyans

  • A medicine vial labelled coronavirus vaccine.
    A medicine vial labelled coronavirus vaccine.
  • Reports regarding successful Covid-19 vaccine human trials in Russia on July 12, went viral, with Kenyans taking to social media to share their excitement and optimism over the latest news.

    According to Russian media, scientists at Sechenov University clinical research center were currently past Phase-1 of human trials.

    Russia's Gamalei National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology - responsible for developing and testing the vaccine, head Alexander Gintsburg told the state-run TASS news agency that they hoped the vaccine would “enter civil circulation” between August 12 and 14.

    “The research has been completed and it proved that the vaccine is safe,” Yelena Smolyarchuk, the head of Sechenov University’s clinical research center added.

    An image of medical officers in a hospital
    Medical staff in protective suits in a hospital.

    With Kenya's confirmed COVID-19 cases well past the 10,000-mark and 197 recorded deaths as of July 13, Kenyans couldn't contain their optimism over the possibility of a corona vaccine.

    "Russia just completed human trials of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine. We're awaiting results in the coming days. This is good news for the world," one user tweeted.

    Others used the latest claims to share memes and jokes on what a potential cure could mean, with the majority highlighting the state of the economy and job losses as the worst aspect of the pandemic.

    The National Employment Authority received a spike in notifications of job losses during the Covid-19 period compared to the immediate period before the pandemic set in.

    Most of the job loss reports came through termination notifications in the form of lay-offs, redundancies and compulsory leave.

    According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the informal sector accounts for 83% of Kenya's labour force. Most of the workers in the sector operate under a high degree of informality and vulnerability, which resulted in massive losses of income since the first Covid19 case was reported in the country on March 13.

    Health CAS Rashid Aman addressing a presser at Afya House on Monday May 11, 2020.
    Health CAS Rashid Aman addressing a presser at Afya House on Monday, May 11, 2020.

    On May 30, Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman said that job losses during this period had so far affected over 3 million livelihoods in the country.

    This would partly explain the excitement witnessed across various social media platforms, once news of the alleged human trial success of Russia's vaccine broke out.

    However, some chose to urge the populous to hold off on any celebrations until the new vaccine was approved for mass production and distribution around the world.

    Various countries around the world including China, USA and India have been on a non-stop race to formulate a vaccine for the virus that has claimed over 572,000 lives across the world to date, with well over 13 million confirmed positive COVID-19 cases.

    On May 19, Moderna, an American biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced that its experimental vaccine had registered positive results after clinical trials.

    According to initial reports, the immune systems of the test subjects produced antibodies that were then tested in infected cells in a controlled lab environment and were able to stop the virus from replicating.

    Closer to home, Kenya was approved to start the trial of experimental drugs for patients under hospitalisation by the World Health Organization (WHO) on April 30.

    According to a report by International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial (ISRCT), a global registry where all human clinical trials are listed and accredited by WHO, Kenya could then begin recruiting participants for the project dubbed 'solidarity'.

    However, scientists are yet to crack the highly sought-after vaccine, with traditional medicinemen and herbalists claiming to have the coronavirus cure in their possession.

    It remains to be seen whether the latest news from Russia could potentially bring an end to one of the worst pages in human history.

    Notably, the World Health Organisation (WHO), on May 13, warned that the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic could escalate into an endemic like Malaria or HIV and may never truly go away.

    A tourist is screened for Coronavirus at the Port of Mombasa on February 13, 2020
    A tourist is screened for Coronavirus at the Port of Mombasa on February 13, 2020
    Daily Nation