Covid vaccine: facts and doubts

Covid-19 vaccine.

It could take Kenya up to two years to vaccinate 16 million vulnerable citizens against Covid-19, a Ministry of Health report says.

Photo credit: File | AFP

As rich nations scramble for the Covid-19 vaccines, many low-income countries are uncertain on when the jabs will arrive in their countries.

Every country with cash is rushing to procure the vaccines, putting manufacturers under pressure to deliver for them.

But Kenya still lacks clarity, with State officials giving contradicting information on the vaccine rollout plan to its citizens what they are not sure of, they are relying on Covax facility, which is also relying on manufacturers to supply them with the vaccine.

Partnering with the World Health Organisation, Covax hopes to deliver more than two billion doses to people in 190 countries in less than a year particularly in 92 poorer countries, Kenya being one of them.

The scheme also involves the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi).

Sufficient data

The WHO has since approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be rolled out globally through Covax, this is one of the vaccines that has been cleared for use in the country.

Last year, when countries were busy scrambling for the commodity, the Minister for Health in Kenya, CS Mutahi Kagwe made unforgiving remarks that backfired on him and he had to withdraw his words.

On November 22, 2020, Mr Kagwe said the ministry would not be in a hurry to place orders for Covid-19 vaccine until a time that there is sufficient data on the safety and efficacy of the most promising vaccine candidates. This did not go well with Kenyans more so the health fraternity who criticised the government for not giving their health a priority.

"I understand the urge that many have to secure vaccines as soon as possible and I share it. However, as the CS for Health, my responsibility is not just to enable access to a vaccine or vaccines, but to ensure that we make the best possible choices on them and that our decisions are irrefutably supported by science,"Mr Kagwe said.

And barely a week later before even they could implement all that Mr Kagwe had said would take a while before they settled on which vaccine candidate to pick, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman announced that Kenya was likely to for Astra-Zeneca vaccine.

Standard refrigeration

On December 9, 2020 during the second NMG-sponsored Kusi Ideas Festival, Dr Aman said that since the vaccine can be stored under standard refrigeration, it could work well for Africa.

As it is, he clarified, the country is inclined towards procuring some doses of the AstraZeneca- developed ChAdOx1-S, also known as AZD1222, since it has a more conducive storage temperature, which many countries can manage.

When the Sunday Nation asked why the ministry kept pushing forward the arrival time of the vaccines into the country, Health CAS Dr Mercy Mwangangi clarified that it was because of the unavailability of the vaccine doses due to supply chain issues and not resources.


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