DRC to donate 150K AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Kenya before June expiry


FILE PHOTO: A vial with the AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is pictured in Berlin, ...
FILE PHOTO: A vial with the AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is pictured in Berlin, Germany, March 16, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Mutahi Kagwe, Cabinet Secretary for Health, has urged people who received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine to remain calm, assuring them that they will receive their second dose.

CS Kagwe said in an interview with CNN on Thursday that the government’s first batch of vaccines was on the verge of running out, and that close to one million Kenyans had been inoculated.

“It is a fact the doses the government had acquired to be administered for Phase One are now on the verge of running out as close to one million had so far been vaccinated,” CS Kagwe said. “We are still vaccinating, but what I can tell you is that we are at the tip, and we need more vaccines like yesterday,”

From the total of 1.12 million doses obtained in March, there are approximately 100,000 doses left in the country.

There’s no need to be concerned, however,  according to CS Kagwe, because the first dose provides up to 70% protection against the disease.

“Those who have received the first dose should not panic as having the first dose in itself according to medical experts offered protection of up to 70 per cent,” CS Kagwe told CNN. “You are better off with a first dose than none at all. We have not heard from anywhere of people dying because they did not get the second dose.”

Kenya is now expecting an additional 150,000 vaccine doses from neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there is no capacity to administer the vaccine doses before they expire in June this year, according to the Health Ministry’s boss.

The latest is part of a recent initiative to recover doses from counties with low uptake and redistribute them to areas with high demand.

This is in addition to the United States’ commitment to donate 60 million doses to other countries; Kenya would need at least 1 million doses to inoculate those who have already received their first dose.

At the same time, CS Kagwe announced that plans are in the works to procure other vaccines, such as the Johnson and Johnson, in light of the situation in India, where vaccine exports have been halted until the country’s needs are met.

According to Kagwe, the AstraZeneneca vaccine is unlikely to remain the vaccine of choice for African countries, particularly given the current shortage, which is expected to last until the end of the year.

“As a continent we must stop believing that there is a good Samaritan out there who is just about to come and help us. It is everyone for himself or herself and God for us all,” CS Kagwe added.

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