[Photo: Pan American Health Organization]
Dec, 17th 2020 – A consignment of the Covid-19 vaccine is expected in Kenya next month, with the first beneficiaries being groups at high risk of contracting the virus. The Ministry of health estimates that the first batch of the recipients will cover 20 percent of the country’s population.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that Kenya has ordered 24 million doses of the vaccine as the government also explores ways of partnering with Chinese organizations that have developed Covid-19 jabs.
According to the Ministry, health workers, the elderly, police officers and teachers wil be the first people to receive the Oxford University Astrazeneca vaccine to be made available in the first quarter of the year.
Kagwe said that the vaccine is far cheaper and easier to store and distribute compared to others. He said, “The ministry and the Kenya Medical Research Institute are carrying out tests. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in an ordinary fridge, unlike the Pfizer one, which has to be kept in extremely cold temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius.”
According to Health Director general Patrick Amoth, the ministry submitted its proposal to the World Health Organization’s Covax program by 7th of December.
He said, “The first 24 million doses, which will be for free, are from Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi). We have set aside another Sh10 billion to cover an additional 10 per cent of the population.”
Earlier, the ministry said that additional funds will be drawn from domestic resources or multilateral development partners such as the World Bank to support the cost sharing contributions.
Kenya has been supported by Gavi with more than sh25 billion vaccines and injection devices and sh4 billion in direct cash since 2001. According to Gavi, a dose of vaccine through Covax will be $7(sh700). Covax is the main global program for vaccinating people against the virus in poor and middle income countries.
Its aim is to deliver at least two billion vaccine doses to 20 percent of the most vulnerable people in 91 countries mainly in Africa, Asia and Latin America by the close of 2021. Kenya is part of the program.