Kenya Approves Covid-19 Vaccine Rejected By South Africa

  • A medicine vial labelled coronavirus vaccine.
    A medicine vial labelled coronavirus vaccine.
  • Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board has approved a Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca, clearing the path for the roll-out of the vaccine in the country.

    According to the World Health Organization, all countries receiving any Covid-19 vaccine are expected to get national authorization before it is used on their citizens.

    “All countries must sign the agreements with any manufacturer they are procuring from before the doses are received through Covax,” WHO said in a statement.

    Covid- 19 Vaccine
    AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine

    Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mutahi Kagwe, confirmed to that the vaccine has been cleared by the Board.

    Samples from the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was submitted to the board which has cleared it as fit for use for the public. 

    South Africa, however, halted the distribution of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, after an evaluation showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the variant dominant known as B1.351 or 501Y.V2 Covid-19 found in South Africa. 

    But WHO okayed the use of the vaccine and encouraged countries to continue procuring the vaccine despite South Africa's rejection.

    More than 50 countries have approved the vaccine. In Eastern Africa, Uganda had ordered nine million doses of the Oxford University - AstraZeneca vaccine while Rwanda applied for either AstraZeneca or the Moderna vaccine.

    The clinical trial on the vaccine is being done at the Kenya Medical Research Institute Wellcome Trust.

    Kenya has faced a lot of hurdles due to supply chain issues but the Ministry of Health insists it will continue with the procurement of the vaccine.

    “The Oxford University-Astrazeneca vaccine is ideal for Kenya because it fits within our cold chain supply system. We are currently testing it and we already have the systems in place for it,” said Dr Patrick Amoth, Director General, Ministry of Health.

    If the government signs the agreement after completing the procurement process, it will be accountable for any side effects or any compensation should the vaccine cause a negative reaction.

    Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi during a press briefing outside Afya House, April 2020.
    Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi during a press briefing outside Afya House, April 2020.

    Speaking to Nation, the Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, disclosed that Kenya would receive 24 million doses of the vaccine in the coming week.

    “We are going on as planned with the purchase of the vaccine," Dr. Mwangangi confirmed.

    The vaccination will cover 40 percent of the population as the program commences early next month.

    The vaccination will be conducted in three phases; the first face will comprise 1.2 million frontline workers which will go for six months.

    The second face will cover 5.1 million Kenyans above the age of 50 years and the third face will target 5.2 million Kenyans who have chronic illnesses.