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There could be a new coronavirus strain out there, says Akhwale

NATIONAL
By Beldeen Waliaula | November 3rd 2021

Dr Willis Akhwale, chairman of the COVID-19 task force for vaccine deployment and the vaccination process [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

There could be a new strain of coronavirus even as Kenya records a significant drop in Covid-19 positivity rate.

As of October 31, the positivity rate stood at 0.6 per cent with only 17 people testing positive.

But reported strains of the deadly Delta variant in some countries have experts keenly watching how the situation puns out.

A sub-variant of Delta labelled AY.4.2 has been detected in a dozen countries, with a majority of cases in the United Kingdom.

Dr Willis Akhwale, chair of the Covid-19 Vaccine Task force, said with new strains continued surveillance remains a top priority.

He said the greatest risk of transmission is among the unvaccinated as they’re more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus.

“The fully vaccinated are less likely to get Covid-19, but they can transmit the virus if infected with the Delta variant. With the unpredictable wave of coronavirus, we must keep our guard at two levels; personal level and at the Ministry of Health level,” said Akhwale.

He said the number of fully vaccinated people in Kenya is 1.6 million.

Akhwale noted that the world has experienced three types of coronavirus starting with SARS, MERS and now SARS-Cov-2.

“Therefore, there is a possibility of even a new coronavirus…that’s why I am insisting on surveillance as there could be new strains, or the virus just showing new seasonality.”

China, which has fully vaccinated more than 1 billion people or roughly over 70 per cent of its population, is struggling to contain new cases of Covid-19. This, despite the fact that the Asian country has two homegrown vaccines, Sinopharm and Sinovac, which are approved by the World Health Organisation.

Another country experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases is Russia, which has reported a slow uptake of its Sputnik V vaccine.

Akhwale reassures that “surveillance at the port of entry is still key for us in addition to ensuring more people are vaccinated”.

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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