The government has revealed plans to participate in an ongoing Covid-19 trial of a US vaccine that has shown promise against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The news was announced yesterday by Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman as the country recorded 461 new cases, bringing the total tally to 11,252. At the same time, Dr Aman announced that seven more people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 209.
The vaccine by Moderna, a United States-based Bio-tech company, is set for phase three trials, the second last stage before approval by the US’ regulatory body, Food and Drug Administration.
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Covid 19 Time Series
The vaccine (mRNA-1273), according to its published literature, contains a portion of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a weak form that causes Covid-19, which triggers the immune system to mount the necessary antibodies when a person is infected.
Aman said the development is good news even as he hinted that there are over 200 vaccine candidates with just a handful showing promising results.
“Kenya Medical Research Institute (Wellcome Trust-Kilifi) is yet to begin the trials in Kenya, but there are indications it will be involved in assessing the efficacy of the vaccine on trial. But there is a procedure and a process for us to be involved in a try out,” said Aman.
Reports indicate that the US firm was willing to have the vaccine rolled out even at 60 or 70 per cent efficacy level.
Health Director General Patrick Amoth said even with the news of a possible vaccine, caution should still be taken on how the disease is managed.
“It is good progress, but we have to handle it with caution since if we get a vaccine, it will be the first world that will benefit first,” said Dr Amoth.
He, however, noted that if the trials go through, the natural thing will be to make it available to all nations.
“Corona anywhere is corona everywhere,” he said.
The Director General noted there were 1,049 patients admitted to hospitals with 39 in Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 21 on ventilatory support and 18 on supplementary oxygen.
“The number of our patients in ICU has not changed significantly in the last three days,” he said.
He, however, indicated that on the death toll, which now stands at 209, there was concern on healthy people succumbing to the virus.
These are individuals without underling conditions like diabetes or hypertension who have succumbed.
“Like the seven who died today, two did not have any underlying conditions,” he observed.
Amoth said this should not be taken lightly even as most cases in the country are asymptomatic due to the demographic of majorly young persons.
“It could be they are getting a more serious form of the infection, which means the person could be healthy, get serious Covid-19 and succumb,” he said.
Further, 51 patients have been discharged from various hospitals after testing negative for the virus, bringing to 3,068 the number of recoveries.
Aman revealed that so far, 450 health workers are infected with coronavirus and four have died of the disease.