MOH: Covid-19 phase 2 vaccination starts on Friday

The second round of Kenya’s Covid-19 vaccination program will kick off on Friday, 28, 2021, the Ministry of Health has announced.

Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe made the revelation during a press briefing on May 25, 2021.

Kenya’s second batch is however much smaller than the 2 million plus doses expected to complete its previously scheduled plan to vaccinate 3.5 million people in the first phase of the campaign.

Since March 2, 2021, the East African Country has been busy vaccinating approximately 1 million Kenyans using the first batch of 1.02 million doses that were flown in from India’s Serum Institute.

Supply constraints attributed to the Indian government’s decision to put a stop to vaccine exports have since prevented the country from rolling out the second phase.

Following the moratorium, the Serum Institute that was producing the vaccine for the country under the Covax facility has been unable to release available stocks for export.

On May 20, 2021, the CS confirmed that the country would switch from the two-dose Astra Zeneca vaccine to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

According to the CS, the second batch is expected to contain just 72,000 doses.

The vaccines have been donated by the Republic of South Sudan and were approved for shipping by the Covax facility.

So far, 957,804 people have been vaccinated in the country.

Of these, 290,628 are aged 58 years and above. A total of 271,021 are listed in the others category, with 164, 369 health workers and 150,807 teachers vaccinated.

So far, 80,979 security officers have been given the shot.

Lack of coordination and cooperation between countries that have already imported vaccine stocks is a worrying trend that could see those with unused stocks letting them go to waste.

On May 20, 2021, Malawi’s health authorities incinerated 19,610 expired doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

The government said the move would reassure the public on the safety of whatever vaccines that it will administer to them.

Malawi is the first African nation to publicly destroy expired Covid-19 vaccine stock.

Health officials are hoping the move will instill public confidence in the vaccination exercise.

At the beginning of the global rollout, the World Health Organization (WHO) had advised countries not to destroy expired doses. The UN health body has since gone back on its recommendations.

National Covid-19 data currently stands at 3,087 with 169,925 cases diagnosed.

With 3,719 people tested on May 25, 2021, positive cases were 366, indicating a positivity rate of 10.3 percent.

On Tuesday, Kisumu County was leading with 110 cases, which counts for slightly less than a third of all diagnosed cases for the 24 hour period.

The high rate of infection could still be a cause of worry as the Indian variant has been reported in the lakeside devolved unit.

As the country battles the third wave of the pandemic, concern is rising worldwide over the ability of poorer countries to vaccinate their vulnerable populations.

Speaking at the 74th World Health Assembly hosted virtually in Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus painted a gloomy scenario of the current vaccine shortage that developing countries face.

Dr Ghebreyesus blamed the stubborn persistence of the pandemic on what her termed a “scandalous inequity” in vaccine distribution.

“The ongoing vaccine crisis is a scandalous inequity that is perpetuating the pandemic,” said Dr Ghebreyesus.

He lamented the fact that just 10 countries had gobbled up three quarters or 75 percent of existing vaccine stocks, adding that it amounted to elitist control of the containment efforts.

“More than 75 percent of all vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries. There is no diplomatic way to say it, but a small group of countries that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world,” the WHO head said.

Dr Ghebreyesus appealed to wealthy countries to donate vaccine doses to the COVAX program. The gesture, he said, would enable the vaccination of up to 10 percent of populations of all countries by September 2021.

It would also play a vital role in ensuring that approximately 30 percent of the global population gets the jab by December 31, 2021.

The WHO boss was among the prominent speakers that headlined the Assembly sessions, which are scheduled to end on June 1, 2021.

Top of the annual ministerial assembly agenda this year are pandemic solutions and prevention. Proposals on how best to tackle the pandemic, stop further deaths and vaccinate as many people as people as possible are expected to dominate the meeting’s agenda in the coming week.

Other issues discussed apart from the Covid-19 pandemic included antimicrobial resistance, laboratory safety, non-communicable diseases, mental health and patient safety.

The real measure of success in the war against the pandemic will be the speed at which less developed countries will access crucial vaccine stocks.

Achieving universal vaccination which will reduce the risk of widespread infections, deaths and hospitalization, will depend on international cooperation and funding.

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres, French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and France’s President pledged their support towards the global vaccine distribution initiative .

On his part, the French president called for greater funding for the WHO to improve its capacity to assist during emergencies and other health issues of global concern.

“We have to improve the funding for the World Health Organization,” Mr Macron said. A well funded WHO, he said, would be able to work more effectively without fiscal challenges. “So, that the organization is more sustainable, more foreseeable and less dependent on a few large donors,” he added.

Representatives from developing countries voiced their strong concerns about their underdeveloped health care systems which also includes insufficient vaccination facilities.

Vaccine shortages are increasingly demonstrating the link between poverty and ill health.

India’s recent wave has clearly shown that universally accessible primary health care is the most important component in the planet’s capacity to combat widespread medical emergencies.

Going forward, it is expected that the WHO will once again take up the leading role in urging the developed countries to loosen the tough rules on Covid-19 vaccine patents that will allow less monied counterparts to manufacture the life saving shots.

Previous calls to share the vaccine patents have not yielded much success, with countries like the US, Switzerland, Australia and Canada voicing their opposition to the suggestion.

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