What you need to know:
- So far, over 8,000 volunteers have received the vaccine in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa.
- To develop ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, scientists have extracted an Adenovirus which causes mild flu in chimpanzees.
Forty Kenyans will participate in the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) Covid-19 vaccine trials which will start in a few weeks.
Kemri Director-General Prof Kombe Yeri said the institution is still acquiring requisite ethical and regulatory approvals before it begins the trials on ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine.
“We were conducting several preparations ahead of the trials. First, it was important for us to get all valid licences from relevant authorities. The Kemri team must also ensure that the vaccine is of the required standards and is not harmful to humans,” said Prof Yeri after meeting members of the National Assembly Health committee.
Prof Yeri said the trials team has obtained approvals from the Kemri Scientific Ethics Review Committee, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation and is currently awaiting additional approvals from the relevant local approving authorities at the study sites.
He said Kemri will inform all stakeholders once the process is complete and also hold a public participation process as required by law.
So far, over 8,000 volunteers have received the vaccine in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa.
Kemri trials team leader Prof George Warimwe said the vaccine’s production is in phase three. “We are working on a vaccine that has gone through various stages and we are confident of its safety profile and its ability to elicit good immune responses. We want to evaluate whether the vaccine performs just as well in this population as it has performed in other settings.”
To develop ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, scientists have extracted an Adenovirus which causes mild flu in chimpanzees. But the Adenovirus is first modified so that it cannot cause any harm to humans.
Prof Warimwe said a similar approach was used to make the Ebola virus that controlled the epidemic in West Africa.
Health committee chairperson Sabina Chege said the government should allocate more funds to Kemri to stop over-reliance on donors.
The House team was touring Kemri in Kilifi to establish how Covid-19 funds were spent. “Kenyans are waiting for the report on alleged misappropriation of funds at Kemsa. This matter involves a lot of people before the public can know if the Covid-19 funds were utilised well or not.”