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Wealthy nations hoarding vaccines, says WHO

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy ALLAN MUNGAI | Mon,Mar 01 2021 00:00:00 EAT
By ALLAN MUNGAI | Mon,Mar 01 2021 00:00:00 EAT

The World Health Organisation is concerned that an initiative to supply poor nations with coronavirus vaccines cannot be accelerated because of the hoarding of the critical shots by well-to-do countries.

Covax (Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access), a programme headed by WHO that aims to supply 1.3 billion vaccine doses to poor and middle-income countries this year, has been slow off the ground.

Only two countries - Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire - have received batches of the vaccine under the plan.

But WHO is saying Covax risks falling behind its target due to competition for the vaccine doses by rich countries.

Speaking during a briefing on Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom said while progress has been made in getting vaccines to states via Covax, the programme could not be accelerated if some countries approach vaccine manufacturers who are producing vaccines that Covax is counting on.

“These actions undermine Covax and deprive health workers and vulnerable people around the world of life-saving vaccines,” he said.

WHO said countries seeking their own Covid-19 vaccine doses and making deals with drug companies threatened the supply to poor and middle-income countries.

The health body had given itself the first 100 days of 2021 to distribute the vaccines but with 43 days left to go, a large number of countries are yet to get the vaccine. 

According to a distribution plan published by Covax Initiative, Kenya is in line to receive more than four million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

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Kenya will receive enough of the vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India to immunise four per cent of the population (2,088,000 people). The vaccine requires two injected doses.

A Cabinet dispatch confirmed last week that Kenya was set to take delivery this week and, to that effect, a distribution framework had been ratified.

“In that regard, Cabinet ratified the distribution framework for the vaccine, with first priority being given to healthcare workers, frontline workers including security personnel, teachers, vulnerable persons and groups and hospitality sector,” said the Cabinet dispatch. 

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