Hope for Kenyans to get covid-19 vaccination grows brighter as the government orders 24 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. The doses are to arrive early next year and will cover about 20 percent of Kenya’s population.
Dr. Patrick Amoth, the acting Director of Health, said that each dose will cost about 3 dollars. However, he did not specify a timeframe. But the vaccines are to arrive early next year.
Dr. Amoth revealed that the vulnerable and the elderly will follow suit after frontline health workers in the vaccination.
“The Covax facility will only provide 20 percent of the vaccines to the Kenyan population. We are looking at possibilities like bilateral arrangements with developers to bridge the gap. As it is, we stand a better chance with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines. Because we are part of the clinical trials. And therefore can negotiate directly with them,” said Dr. Amoth.
Locally available vaccine
The country is locally relying on the AstraZeneca vaccine whose test is still underway in Kilifi County. Dr. Amoth said Gavi has signed agreements with manufacturers of about nine vaccine candidates. But the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be ideal for Kenya. Because it fits within its cold chain supply system.
Dr. George Warimwe head of AstraZeneca vaccine research said that they are in the third stage of testing the vaccine. He added that when ready, they will give priority to the health workers. Persons working in places where they are likely to interact with many people will also be a priority.
“People involved in rapid response against Corona Virus and people who are at the fore front of providing a service to the public, are at high risk,” said Dr. Warimwe.
But now with the planned outsourcing, Kenyans have a better hope.
The majority of East African citizens will have to wait till 2022 to access the Covid-19 vaccine. This comes as the available doses (specifically Biontech-Pfizer and the Moderna) have been pre-purchased by the rich countries.
The Covax facility: Kenyans to get covid-19 vaccination
Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda are planning to access the Covid-19 vaccine via the Covax initiative. The Covax is a Gavi vaccine initiative co-led by the World Health Organization and is designed to enable low-income countries to purchase the Covid-19 vaccine.
According to Catherine Kyobutungi, the Executive Director of the African Population and Health Research Center, Africa will mostly likely receive vaccines through the Covax facility.
The low economic grid in most African countries puts them at the bottom of the queue of getting the vaccine on the open market.
“We may be looking at any time up to the end of 2022,” said Ms Kyobutungi.
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Countries are to share some of the costs of Covid-19 vaccines and delivery. This will be up to 1.60 – 2 dollars per dose.
Under the Covax facility, people at the highest risk will get priority access to Covid-19 vaccines. The frontline health and social care workers; people over 65 years and people under 65 who have underlying health conditions.
Uganda Government pays for vaccine through Gavi
Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the public relations officer of Uganda’s Ministry of Health said that their government applied for the vaccine through the Gavi
“We don’t apply directly to the manufacturers,” said Ainebyoona.
Mr. Ainebyoona said the government will make more communication on demand generation which entails uptake, awareness and distribution.
Rwanda’s Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije, said the country has placed an order and is working on the logistics.
Vaccines and other equipment, such as injections, will be imported from different countries. Importation to Rwanda can only happen after March or April 2021, according to WHO Africa.
“Vaccines for 20 percent of the population will be acquired for free. Additional vaccines will be bought in partnership with donors. We at least need 60 percent of the population to make sure the infections are halted. People will be vaccinated for free,” said Dr. Ngamije.
No foreign vaccine needed: Kenyans to get covid-19 vaccination
Tanzania said it has no plans to import any other vaccine for Covid-19. Instead, the country will continue with testing their already said herbal remedies.
Gerald Chami, Tanzania’s Spokesman at the Ministry of Health said, “There are no plans in place yet of importing vaccine for Covid-19. Our health experts and scientists are still researching and undergoing clinical trials for the local herbs for covid-19. The country received its first shipment of Madagascar’s self-proclaimed, plant-based Covid remedy on May 8. This is despite warnings from the World Health Organization that its efficacy is unproven.
“It takes not less than six months to find a vaccine or cure for a certain disease. We have gone on our own since the pandemic spread. I am not sure if it is wise to have a vaccine imported and distributed to the citizens without undertaking clinical testing to approve if it is safe for our people,” added Mr. Chami.
In the world, there are more than 230 Covid-19 vaccine candidates. Kenya, South Africa and Egypt carrying out trials on AstraZeneca. This limits the options available to African countries.
So far Oxford’s AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine remains the convenient option. AstraZeneca can be stored under cold chain storage. The same used for other primary vaccines already in use across the region.
When candidate vaccines make it to human clinical trials, they first go through three phases. Phase 1 trials primarily test the vaccine’s safety. And also to determines dosages and to identifies any potential side effects in a small number of people. Phase 2 trials further explore safety and start to investigate efficacy on larger groups. The final stage, phase 3 trials, which few vaccines ever make it to, are much larger, involving thousands or tens of thousands of people, to confirm and assess the effectiveness of the vaccine and test whether there are any rare side effects that only show up in large groups. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists candidates at various stages of clinical trials.
Earlier, the Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Rashid Aman had shed hope of getting the vaccine ready soon. He said that it is possible, regarding the hiking trend of new Covid-19 infections to get an emergency use permit.
“The vaccine might receive an emergency use authorization very shortly. We are already in discussions on the availability of this vaccine when it becomes available,” Said Dr. Aman.
Vaccine locally on trial may take longer to get to people: Kenyans to get covid-19 vaccination
Dr. Warimwe reveals that locally tested vaccine may take longer before being released to the publics. He attributes delays to lack of local evaluation on the vaccine.
“It has not been evaluated in Kenya. The only other African country where evaluation has been done is South Africa and Egypt,” said Dr. Warimwe.
The first person to get vaccination against Covid-19 in the United Kingdom (UK) was Margaret Keenan on Dec 8. The 90 year old received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Tuesday. UK has since advanced vaccination to more others. Health workers and those of over 70 years tops in the priority list.
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The UK was the first country in the world to start using the Pfizer vaccine. This comes after regulators approved its use last week.
Vaccination kicks off in the US
The first Covid-19 vaccination in the United States has taken place, as the country gears up for its largest ever immunization campaign.
“I feel like healing is coming,” said New York nurse Sandra Lindsay – among the first health workers given the jab.
On Monday, as the US death toll topped 300,000. Meanwhile, 150 hospitals across the country were to receive millions of vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
The US vaccination programme aims to reach 100 million people by April 2021.
In the US, Ms. Lindsay a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, received the Covid-19 vaccine.
“It didn’t feel any different from taking any other vaccine,” Ms. Lindsay said. “I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history. I want to instil public confidence that the vaccine is safe. We’re in a pandemic and so we all need to do our part.”
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received emergency-use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday.
The roll-out comes as the epidemic continues to ravage the country. Deaths have been rising sharply since November. The number of people in hospital with the disease has also increased. More than 109,000 people currently admitted.