MoH considers slowing down vaccination over supply concerns


Jemimah Katana, an assistant nurse at Kenyatta National Hospital, was among the first health workers ...
Jemimah Katana, an assistant nurse at Kenyatta National Hospital, was among the first health workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on March 5, 2021. PHOTO| COURTESY

Concern over the future supplies of COVID-19 vaccines has been mounting since India put a freeze on vaccine exports following a surge in its infections.

The serum institute of India was unable to meet the rising domestic demand combined with its global obligations under the COVAX arrangement.

Sources in the Ministry of Health told Citizen TV that Kenya may be forced to stop or slow down the ongoing vaccination programme if supply constraint in India persists.

With an accelerated rate of 30,000 to 40,000 jabs a day, the current vaccine stocks could last only a few days, putting the government between a rock and a hard place since the first recipients of the jab will already be due for the second shot.

The situation is complicated by the uncertainty around the possibility of having the second shot from a different vaccine.

The WHO’s Regulation Director Rogerio Gaspar has maintained that there is no data available at the moment to support a “mix and match” approach.

The Head of Vaccine taskforce Dr Willis Akhwale says the government remains hopeful that the next consignment of 2.5million doses will indeed arrive on May 2 as anticipated.

According to the latest government data, as of April 8, 455,826 people have been vaccinated , with 455,299 and 527 having received the Astrazeneca vaccine and the Sputnik V vaccine respectively.

Out of the 1,120,000 doses received, 999,000 have been distributed to the regional depots and 121,000 are in the national central vaccine store in Kitengela.

Nairobi still leads in the vaccination, accounting for 32% of all people vaccinated. Other leading counties are : Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Kiambu and Nyeri.

Lamu county has the least uptake with than 500 people having been vaccinated, at 0.1%

Kwale, Mandera, Tana River and mMrsabit have also recorded low uptake.

Kenya, however, is already considering securing vaccines outside the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) , an option the W.H.O Chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom warns could increase vaccine inequity if more countries bypass COVAX.

“The problem is not getting vaccines out of COVAX, the problem is getting them in. we understand that some countries and companies plan to do their own bilateral vaccine donations, bypassing COVAX for their own political or commercial reasons. These bilateral arrangements run the risk of fanning the flames of vaccine inequity. This is a time for partnership, not patronage. scarcity of supply is driving vaccine nationalism and vaccine diplomacy.” Dr. Tedros said

Globally, the WHO says there is what it calls a “shocking imbalance” in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and most countries do not have anywhere near enough shots to cover health workers and others at high-risk.

More than 700 million jabs have been administered worldwide against the disease, but 87 percent have gone to high income or upper middle-income countries, with low income countries receiving just 0.2 percent.

On average, in high-income countries, almost one in four people has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The COVAX program has delivered nearly 38.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 102 countries across six continents, six weeks after it began to roll out supplies.

It aims to deliver more than two billion doses this year but has faced delays.

In the last 24 hours, 1030 people have tested positive for COVID-19 bringing Kenya’s caseload to 145,184.

The test positivity rate is at 12.4% from a sample size of 8316.

21 deaths have been recorded, 5 having occurred in the last 1 month and 16 being late deaths which occurred on diverse dates.

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