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Kenya may order Indian and Chinese vaccines to meet increasing demand

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MERCY KAHENDA | 2 weeks ago
By MERCY KAHENDA | 2 weeks ago

 

Elderly residents queuing for the Covid-19 Vaccine at Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (PGH) in Nakuru on March 30, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

Kenya has almost exhausted the first batch of 1.12 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, triggering fears the target group might miss out.

Uasin Gishu is among counties that have exhausted their first consignment while Nakuru County is running out of 30,000 doses it was given.

Dr Kariuki Gichuki, the Nakuru County Health executive, told The Standard that the “number of people in need of vaccination is overwhelming and to meet the target group, we have ordered for more doses”. 

The Director, Product Evaluation and Registration at the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PBP) Dr Ronald Inyangala told The Standard that the process of approving two more vaccines is ongoing to meet the rising demand.

The vaccines are Covaxin from Bharat Biotech India through Simba Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Sinopharm from China through Tembe-Centre Ltd.

The authorisation process of the Covaxin vaccine is halfway complete and by end of this month, it might be in the country.

The Chinese vaccine might take two to three months. These two vaccines are, however, not yet prequalified by the World Health Organisation.

“So far, we have done at least 50 per cent of authorisation of the Covaxin vaccine, and I can state that by the end of this month, it will be added to the vaccination list, but the Chinese one is a bit far,” said Dr Inyangala.

If approved by PBP, Covaxin and Sinopharm will added to Oxford/AstraZeneca and Sputnik V, currently being administered in Kenya.

Inyangala said pre-submission discussions were also ongoing with Johnson & Johnson vaccine, prior to any authorisation plans.

“The pre-submission discussions with Johnson & Johnson include conditions of storage because we need climatic conditions that fit us.

“We are also looking at it in terms of manufacturing, where it is being done and we have to confirm the manufacturing process,” he said.

Of Kenyans who have been vaccinated, 56 per cent are men while 44 per cent are women.

Turkana County recorded the lowest uptake as only 335 out of 9,000 doses have been administered, according to the Director of Medical Services Gilchrist Lokoel.

“We are conducting more public education and sensitisation on the importance of vaccination.

“We aim to reach out to all the target population to help create herd immunity,” said Dr Lokoel.  

Cumulative infections in the county stands at 1,237 and 22 deaths.

In West Pokot County, 1,000 people had been vaccinated by March 31.

County Health director Samuel Lopar said training for vaccinators in the sub-counties had been done before the vaccination exercise was rolled out.

“Vaccination has been taking place at Lodwar County Referral Hospital. The uptake is low but we intend to teach the elderly in the villages,” said Lopar.

Machakos County received a consignment of 9,000 doses, out of which 8,400 had been administered by Wednesday, according to Health executive Dr Ancent Kituki who added that “the biggest group demanding vaccination is the elderly.”

He said the county had ordered for more vaccines and received 2,000 doses.

The story is the same for Vihiga County Referral Hospital where the turn out by the elderly has been high.

County vaccines coordinator Edith Anjere said out of the 6,000 doses received, 4,500 had been administered by Thursday and “we have witnessed no hesitancy in the vaccination programme, more so among elderly.”

According to the Covax distribution plan by the Ministry of Health, the first phase of 495,000 doses would be distributed to nine regional depots, Level VI hospitals and Military Level IV hospitals.

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