MADE IN KENYA

Kemri urged to produce Covid vaccine during shortage

Kenya should not be Guinea pigs for others vaccines but should step up and make its own

In Summary

• The chairperson of the Health committee in the National Assembly Sabina Chege said having a local solution is the only way to fight the Covid-19 virus.

• She said the national assembly is ready to fund local scientists to help them come up with a vaccine.

The chairman of the Health committee in the national assembly Sabina Chege at Kenol in Murang'a on Friday.
DO IT YOURSELF: The chairman of the Health committee in the national assembly Sabina Chege at Kenol in Murang'a on Friday.
Image: ALICE WAITHERA

Kenya should develop and produce its own Covid-19 vaccine.

That's what chairwoman Sabina Chege of the Health committee in the National Assembly has said. She spoke on Friday while issuing bursary checks as schools prepare to open on Monday.

Chege, who is Murang'a woman representative, has said a locally produced vaccine is the only way that the country will continue to beat the virus that keeps mutating.

She said this as five cases of the Indian Covid-19 variant were reported in the country just days after the same variant was reported in Uganda.

The ministry said it has vaccinated 911,515 Kenyans, including 160,468 healthcare workers, 531,540 people aged 58 years and above, 142,624 teachers and 76,578 security officers.

In March, the country received its first batch of one million AstraZeneca vaccine doses from India.

India has temporarily halted export of the vaccine as it is ravaged by a new variant and demand is high. Vaccines are effetive with the variant.

The Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, Covax Facility, on which many African countries rely, has been striking deals with other vaccines producers because of the interrupted supply from India, its main supplier.

Chege said with the many variants a shortage in the supply, the government should consider investing in a local vaccine to provide a sure solution to the pandemic that has ravaged the globe.

“It is unfortunate we got the Indian Covid-19 strain in the country and I am appealing to the government to start working on its own vaccine,” she said.

We cannot just be guinea pigs that do the trials or take the vaccines and then we are left hanging. South Africans have managed to do their own vaccine... 
Sabina Chege, chairman of Health committee in National Assembly

She added the National Assembly is ready to fund research and expressed confidence donor funding would be available.

“If donors are willing to fund the country to enable it import vaccines, I believe they would also support us if we decided to start working on a local solution,” Chege said.

She said the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) has many scientists and the capacity to produce vaccine.

She said it is unfortunate many trials have been done in the country by companies producing the vaccines yet the government is grappling with a shortage.

“We cannot just be guinea pigs that do the trials or take the vaccines and then we are left hanging. South Africans have managed to do their own vaccine and I challenge our scientists and ministry to take up the challenge,” she added.

Cheg said though the country has managed to control the virus, no country was prepared for the pandemic.

She cited India where many Kenyans have been turning for healthcare and whose own Covid cases are spiralling out of control.

“No single country is fully prepared for any pandemic. This virus is surprising. We are grateful we have been not as devastated as other countries but we pray that God will help our scientists come up with a plan for a vaccine,” Chege said.

(Edited by V. Graham)