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Tetanus vaccine test samples bound for UK

Health & Science - By GATONYE GATHURA | December 2nd 2014 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Samples of the contested tetanus vaccine were to be received in Nairobi Monday from various counties and be airlifted to the United Kingdom and South Africa last night.

In a telephone interview Monday morning, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the results of the tests, also to be done at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, will be out by Thursday.

Mr Macharia, who is in Bangkok for a meeting on malaria, said they have agreed on the sampling procedures with the Catholic Church.

"We want this to be a totally open and transparent procedure to put the controversy to rest," he said.

If the laboratories start testing sometimes today, then within 24 to 48 hours, it will be known whether the vaccines are clean of the alleged infertility hormone.

If the vaccine contains the hormone, then more tests might be recommended to determine the quantity and establish how the contamination happened.

Monday, Macharia said they have completed the tetanus vaccine campaign and that early indications are that they had met more then 74 per cent of their target which he said is commendable.

This is happening even as international groups of Catholic doctors concede that the vaccine does not contain the alleged hormone.

Last week MaterCare International, an organisation of Catholic health professionals and the American Association of ProLife Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said if the tetanus vaccine given to millions of women in many countries including Kenya was capable of causing infertility, there would be ample demographic data to confirm this by now.

Human samples

MaterCare International Founder and Executive Director Robert Walley said the validity of the tests performed in five labs in Kenya was questionable because they were not tested as vaccines but human samples.

Dr Walley said even if the substance tested was the infertility hormone, the levels were too small to cause infertility.

In a statement MaterCare, which runs a health facility in Isiolo says it supports the proposed joint tests but only to be carried out independently and in competent laboratories.

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