ALTERNATIVE

Kenya to consider buying Russia's vaccine through AU

Sputnik V costs about (Sh1,100) $10 per dose, and a person needs two doses.

In Summary

•In August last year Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi had said Kenya would engage Russia directly for its vaccine, through the Foreign Affairs ministry.

•Kenya has so far only ordered the AstraZeneca jab, through Covax and through the AU.

The Sputnik V vaccine produced by Russia.
The Sputnik V vaccine produced by Russia.

Kenya will consider buying the Russian Covid-19 vaccine offered to the African Union this week, as the third wave of the outbreak looms during the rainy season.

A Ministry of Health official told the Star the vaccine would be a good buy since it is more effective than the AstraZeneca vaccine that Kenya has ordered.

The Sputnik V vaccine gives around 92 per cent protection against Covid-19, according to late stage trial results published in The Lancet on February 2.

“It’s also safe and fits well in our cold chain supply system,” the official said,

Just like the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, Sputnik V can be stored at temperatures of between 2 and 8C degrees.

The vaccine has been approved by 15 countries, including Russia, Argentina, Palestinian territories, Venezuela, Hungary, UAE, and Iran.

On Friday, Africa Vaccine Acquisition TaskTeam, set up by the African Union to acquire additional vaccine doses so that Africa can attain a target immunization of 60 per cent, said Russia had offered to sell to it 300 million doses of Sputnik V vaccine.

 “This includes a financing package for any member states wishing to secure this vaccine,” the team said.

The cost of the Sputnik V vaccine for international markets is about (Sh1,100) $10 per dose, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

A person needs two doses given 21 days apart.

In August last year Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi said Kenya would engage Russia directly for its vaccine, through the Foreign Affairs ministry.

“We definitely will plug in and work with Russia to ensure that the vaccine is safe before we use it,” she told a news conference.

However, Kenya has so far only ordered the AstraZeneca jab, through Covax and through the AU.

The country had ordered 10 million AstraZeneca doses through AU’s AVATT, but the AU team said the 270 million doses previously secured from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnsons were all taken up in the first allocation phase.

“We are grateful to receive the Sputnik V vaccines from the Russian Federation and tremendously proud to be able to offer them on the AMSP for our AU Member States,” said Dr John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement.

 “Bilateral and private sector partnerships such as these are critical in our efforts to bring the Covid-19 pandemic to an end”.

Sputnik V vaccines will be available for a period of 12 months commencing by May 2021, he said.

AVATT advised countries to visit its website and use their national access code - issued to all African Union member states' Ministers of Finance and Health - to start the pre-order process.

“African Union member states that wish to secure funding should approach the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) through their Central Banks, as has been the case with the other vaccines that have been on offer,” it said.

“The Board of Afreximbank, last week, approved the USD$ 2 billion Advance Purchase Commitment for the participating suppliers, allowing the finalization of supply contracts.”