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Firm exports 800k vaccine syringes for Nigeria trials

By Philip Mwakio | December 1st 2020

A firm that manufactures drugs and medical equipment in Kilifi County has exported a consignment of 800,000  specialised vaccine syringes to be used to administer a Covid-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

The auto-disable syringes used to administer the Russian Covid-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, left Moi International Airport over the weekend for Lagos.

According to the firm, Revital Healthcare (EPZ) Ltd, the consignment is worth Sh4 million. 

The institution, which is based at Kilifi's Kanamai area, manufactures four million immunisation syringes a month, according to Sales Director Roneek Vora (pictured).

Vora said Nigeria has become the first country to receive the auto-disable syringes, which left Kenya for the West African nation aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight.

The syringes, which automatically disable once used, will administer Sputnik V, the first officially registered Covid-19 vaccine, which Nigeria received from Russia.

Speaking at the freight terminal of the Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Vora said they are now receiving inquiries from within and outside Africa.

“In the 12 years that we have been in production, we have not received inquiries from outside Africa,” said Vora.

He said before the outbreak of Covid-19, they sold their products within Kenya and exported them to Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi, among others African nations.

However, the pandemic has seen countries like Canada, the US, Myanmar, Vietnam, Philippines and Brazil  make enquiries and orders.

“For the first time, we exported face masks to the UK,” said Vora.

At its medical facility in Kilifi, Revital Healthcare manufactures 14 medical disposable products, including immunisation syringes, Covid-19 testing kits, personal protective equipment kits and surgical face masks.

It is the only manufacturer in Africa approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to manufacture and sell Performance, Quality and Safety (PQS)-certified syringes, including fixed-dose immunisation syringes.

Revital Healthcare has said it has offered to equip all 47 counties with Covid-19 test kits, which can test at least 1,000 samples a day. This potentially accumulates to 47,000 people tested for Covid-19 a day.

“The machines will be provided for free, provided that 25,000 kits are purchased for VTM (Viral Transport Medium) for extraction and transportation,” said Vora.

The manufacturer's combined capacity for all auto-disable syringes is 40 million units a month, but Vora said they plan to increase production three-fold by the end of next year to cater for the expected high demand for vaccine syringes in the next few months.

Vora said purchasing local products is not only cheaper but also promotes the local economy. Women make up the majority workers employed at the EPZ firm, whose total workforce is 400, he said.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last month approached Revital Healthcare to pre-plan for vaccine syringes. The foundation has partnered with the manufacturer to mass produce the vaccine syringes.

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