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MPs recommend Sh4.5 billion to be set aside to procure Covid-19 vaccine

By Dominic Omondi | March 6th 2021

Covid-19 Vaccine. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Members of Parliament have proposed that Sh4.5 billion be set aside for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccine in the 2021/22 Financial Year.

In a report of the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee, the lawmakers decried the lack of mention of Covid-19 vaccine in the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) 2021.

“There is no mention in the BPS 2021 regarding the availability of vaccines for Covid-19 and whether it is one of the government’s priorities in 2021-22 and over the medium term as part of Covid-19 interventions,” reads the report.

This comes at a time when Kenya has just received its first consignment of Covid-19 vaccine, with Dr Patrick Amoth, Health Ministry Director-General, being among the first Kenyans to be vaccinated.

MPs also want the government to invest in alternative (herbal) medicine to complement conventional ones in dealing with Covid-19.

Healthcare workers, security personnel, teachers, persons aged 50 and above, as well as those with underlying conditions are among those who have been prioritised for the 1.02 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived in Kenya on Tuesday night.

Kenya has been allocated 4.1 million doses under the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility.

Covax is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organisation and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

Procurement of the vaccines is supposed to be done in three financial years – 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23. It will cost around Sh12 billion.

Kenya is expected to receive another 10 million doses of the vaccine under a World Bank financing.

However, there has been no allocation for the vaccine in the current and upcoming budgets, a situation that has forced the lawmakers to recommend its inclusion in the Budget Estimates, which will come out in April.

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Vaccination of Kenyans will complement the existing health and safety measures, including wearing of masks, washing hands, and maintaining social distance which are aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Improve business

The captains of industry, according to a perception survey by the Central Bank of Kenya, have been upbeat about economic recovery, banking on a decline in Covid-19 infections and a vaccine, which is expected to improve business confidence and boost economic activity.

But they are also wary that economic activities may be moderated by an escalation of Covid-19 infections as new variants emerge, curfew hours are extended and disposable incomes are reduced following the reversal of tax breaks.

However, there are fears of the rich jumping the line for the Covid-19 vaccine, leaving a majority of the poor vulnerable to contracting the disease.

Failure to vaccinate many people will make it hard for the country to achieve herd immunity.

Studies done in Israel have shown that hospitalisation of people aged 60 years and above has declined after they were vaccinated.

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