Hope for more Covid-19 vaccines for Kenyans

Kenya is set to benefit from unspecified number of COVID-19 vaccine donations from the United States.
 
The East African country will receive part of the 14 million Pfizer donations which President Joe Biden recently announced.
 
Other countries included in the donation list are Nigeria, Ghana, Cape Verde and Egypt.
 
Kenya’s consignment is expected to arrive in the country by the end of June 2021.
 
Meanwhile, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache confirmed Monday that another 182,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccines are expected in the country soon.
 
Ms Mochache was speaking at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport during the arrival of an Air France flight that was carrying a 358,700 dose consignment from the Danish government.
 
“We are expecting another 182,000 doses next week to boost the vaccination program,” said Ms Mochache.
 
She termed the donations “a timely and welcome boost” to the country’s effort to protect its citizens from life threatening COVID-19 disease.

She added that the country was only left with 5,000 doses prior to the Monday night arrival .
 
“We were left with only 5,000 doses at the Kitengela vaccine storage facility. Had that stock been exhausted by this week then the program would have ground to a halt.

We are therefore grateful to the Danish government for the generous gesture that enables us to continue vaccinating our people against the worst effects of COVID-19,” she said.

The donations will address the uncertainty brought about by the current global supply constraints that have resulted in the delay in expected vaccine shipments from the Serum Institute of Pune, India.

India took the decision following a recent deadly spike in infections driven by the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Danish envoy Ole Thonke who was at the airport to receive the consignment on behalf of his government defended it against accusations of dumping.
 
Denmark was one of the first countries to drop the Astra Zeneca vaccine from its COVID-19 vaccination program following concerns raised on the jab’s association with blood clots.
 
Mr Thonke said the decision was driven by what he termed “domestic supply overload” brought about by his country’s purchase of sufficient stocks of alternative vaccine brands including Pfizer and Moderna.
 
“We decided to drop Astra Zeneca from the program because we had more than enough stocks of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. That being the case, we decided to offload the extra stocks by way of donation to countries that have demonstrated commitment to vaccinating their people but have not accessed sufficient stocks,” said Mr Thonke.

“Kenya is one such country, and we are glad to assist in whichever way we can,” added the envoy.   
 
The Danish consignment is expected to expire by the end of July 2021.

This means that the vaccines in the entire batch should be distributed and administered before that date. 
 
Speaking in Nairobi on June 22, 2021, National COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce chair Dr Willis Akhwale said authorities were considering ramping up the exercise to administer at least 50,000 doses per day.
 
The move, he said, will entail doubling the current capacity of 26,000 doses per day.
 
“We have so far been able to administer 26,000 doses but for the particular batch, we have to step up our activities to make it 50,000 doses per day. This will enable us to effectively use up all the doses,” said Dr Akhwale.
 
Within the next two months, Dr Akhwale added that the government would target the vaccination of 2 million Kenyans per month.
 
“From August, we will be targeting the vaccination of at least 2 million Kenyans per month,” the vaccination task force chair told a local television station.
 
So far, more than 190,000 Kenyans representing 9.7 percent of the population have been fully vaccinated against severe COVID-19 whose fatality data stands at 3,484 people countrywide.
 
He said the government was committed to procuring vaccines for at least 30 million Kenyans, which works out to almost 60 percent of the country’s estimated population of 51 million.
 
“We are still on course with the plan to procure vaccines for 30 million Kenyans. Among these, the priority for now remains healthcare workers, teachers and security officers that have already received the first dose,” said Dr Akhwale.
 
He said the government was determined to ensure that all Kenyans that had received the first dose now got their second dose.
 
“The first dose provides between 60 and 70 percent protection. Receiving the second dose after the recommended 12 week period pushes up the protection or vaccine efficacy levels to more than 90 percent.
 
According to the medic, the safest bet for Kenyans who had received their fist dose was to ensure they had completed the required dosage.
 
“The best option for any Kenyan who has received the first dose is to be fully vaccinated. We are strongly encouraging those that got the first shot to ensure they get the second one,” he said.
 
Dr Akhwale defended the recent stepped up restrictions in 13 counties that have been declared COVID-19 hotspots.
 
He reiterated that the government would not ease up on the containment measures currently in force countrywide, saying the country’s gradual return to normalcy depended on how effective they were.
 
“We want to ensure the containment measures are strictly followed so that we are not forced to go into lockdown as a result of our healthcare system being overwhelmed by admissions and patients in need of oxygen and other types of critical care,” said Dr Akhwale.
 
Apart from getting vaccinated, he called on Kenyans to maintain the WHO-recommended measures including social distancing, wearing masks, hand-washing and practising proper cough hygiene.
 
“The ongoing vaccination campaign does not stop COVID-19 transmission but protects recipients from severe disease. Safety measures recommended by the Wold Health Organization still apply,” he said. 

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