Kenya is in talks with AU over Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson jabs

Mutahi Kagwe

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe who on April 21, 2021 said that Kenya is in talks with the Africa Union’s Covid-19 vaccination on plans to buy Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Kenya is in talks with the Africa Union’s Covid-19 vaccination plan on securing Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe Wednesday said that should the talks be successful, a batch of a million each of the two vaccines will be brought into the country.

This will help in backing up the 1.25 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine acquired through the Covax facility and another 100,000 doses that the Indian government donated to the country.

Since the two vaccines require specialised storage different from the existing Oxford-AstraZeneca’s, Mr Kagwe said that while procuring the jabs, the Health ministry would also acquire unique storage equipment.

AstraZeneca delay

On the flip side, CS Mutahi Kagwe has, however, said that there is no hope for the end of May government promise of bringing in the second batch of the AstraZeneca consignment via the Covax facility.

“The Serum Institute of India (the vaccine manufacturer) has actually written a letter to the Ministry of Health to talk about the delay. We have to be patient because this is not a Kenyan problem but a problem with the global supply chain which contributes to the shortage,” said Mr Kagwe.

The CS has said that so far, the African continent has so far only received 12 million doses through the Covax facility and not the 75 million doses which had been expected.

“The problem is that India is also in a crisis with the soaring cases of Covid-19, that means that the flow of the vaccines will continue to be challenging,” he said.

Kenya has so far used about three quarters of the vaccines that are already in the country, with about 750, 000 people having received the jab.

Experts’ advice

“We have consulted experts and they say that there is no need to hold on to some vaccines so as to give people a second dose. Instead, they advised that it is better to vaccinate many people with the first dose as they wait for the second dose so that they can have some form of protection,” said Mr Kagwe.

If the number of weeks (eight) between the first and the second dose and the availability of vaccines were to align, the first recipient of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are to receive their second doses early next month.

The hope to get their second dose will still remain bleak until another consignment is brought to the country.

And if the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are brought into the country, those who have received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will have to wait for advice on whether it is safe to receive a different jab.

“Some experts say that it is unwise to mix vaccines. But some countries are already planning to have people receive a different type from the one they received on their first dose. We will wait until there is enough evidence from science on whether it is a good idea to have two types of the vaccine for the first and second dose,” Mr Kagwe explained.