No mixing vaccines, supplies are dropping- Dr Amoth
HEALTH & SCIENCEBy BELDEEN WALIAULA | Thu,Sep 09 2021 18:09:54 EATBy BELDEEN WALIAULA | Thu,Sep 09 2021 18:09:54 EAT
Kenya might experience a drop in vaccine supply after the Covax facility, the main source of Covid-19 doses for low income countries, slashed delivery by 25 percent.
Kenya is racing towards vaccinating 10 million people by year’s end and like other African countries, depends on Covax for vaccines whose supply is now facing challenges including in manufacturing, capacity, export restrictions, regulatory approvals, funding, and readiness of countries in their national jab campaigns.
The Covax facility includes UNICEF, Gavi, and WHO and whose supplies were affected by export restrictions from countries like India whose Serum Institute of India (SII) was a key Covax supplier. But India put brakes to deal with surging infections on the face of difficulties accessing raw materials from the United States.
WHO says only 20 percent of people in developing countries have received a first dose compared to 80 percent in developed countries and WHO laments that “today the Covax ability to protect the most vulnerable people in the world is hampered by export bans, the prioritization of bilateral deals by manufactures and delay in approvals.”
Covid 19 Time Series
In Africa, only Egypt, Senegal, and South Africa can manufacture vaccines but in limited quantity and “with a population of more than 1.2 billion people, Africa has no manufacturing capacity of vaccines. Covax is constrained because of the manufacturing capacity not that there are no resources for acquiring vaccines,” explained Acting Director General of Health, Dr Patrick Amoth adding that the Ministry of Health now plans to scale up trajectory of stemming the virus through Johnson & Johnson which is a single shot dose.
Dr Amoth further says that the Johnson & Johnson batch Kenya procured through the African Union was through the government resources and local funds and “we have put an order of 13 million doses but the manufacturer is also meeting constraints like requirements by WHO.”
Kenya is set to rely less on Covax by making Johnson & Johnson its primary vaccine. considering donation by wealthy countries are also too small to outweigh a litany of other challenges with direct procurement being the better option.
Dr Amoth also clarified that though some Western countries have been mixing vaccines, that won’t happen in Kenya due to the uncertain supply of vaccines and Kenyans will stick to one type of vaccine that they choose as there is no superior vaccine as all have efficacy.
While Western countries are also issuing third shots commonly referred to as booster shots, Kenya will not offer any extra shots until at least 50 percent of the population is vaccinated as “it's inhumane for someone to get a third and fourth shot yet they are people in low income countries with no single shot,” adds Dr Amoth
Vaccine defaulters in the country now stands at 100,000 people-who are due for their second shot but have not gone for it and the Ministry of Health is warning defaulters that one shot does not guarantee total immunity.
“We will be tracking them through the chanjo system and work with the health community volunteers and Nyumba Kumi initiative to get them to get the jab,” says Dr Amoth.
Though getting Covid-19 jabs is voluntary, those who are fully vaccinated will still have to wear a mask and avoid overcrowding as the deadly ‘Delta variant’ is easily transmissible across all age groups yet as Dr Amoth warns “we only have three percent of people who have been fully vaccinated.”
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