•Dr Jeremiah Chakaya, a respected respiratory physician based in Nairobi, said Kenyans should feel confident the product is sound scientifically. There should be no hesitancy.
•The Kenyan Catholic advisory runs against a review approved by Pope Francis, who received a vaccine in January.
A Catholic doctors lobby has advised church members not to accept the Covid-19 vaccine but instead practise steam therapy if they are sick.
The Catholic Doctors Association also advised those sick with Covid-19 to take three medicines that studies show are useless against the disease.
However, health experts have cautioned that Kenyans should get the vaccine they are offered.
Dr Jeremiah Chakaya, a respected respiratory physician based in Nairobi, said it makes sense for people to be hesitant in adopting new things.
However, he assured Kenyans that vaccines go through a rigorous process before they are licensed.
“Kenyans should feel confident the product is sound scientifically. There should be no hesitancy,” he said.
Chest health expert Dr Joseph Aluoch said the fact that Covid-19 is a new disease could be driving misinformation.
“It’s development was so fast even for us to appreciate. For a disease that was unknown to us one year ago. You know it and produce an effective vaccine, this is what has caused misinformation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Doctors Association took issue with the Astrazeneca vaccine due to its use of genetically modified organisms and use of lab-grown cells that descend from cells taken in the 1980s from the tissue of aborted foetuses.
However, these cells are not part of the ingredients, and are simply used as a base for many vaccines, including some already in use in Kenya.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been cleared by the European Medicines Agency, the World Health Organization, the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board among other regulatory bodies.
“It has been made clear that the experimental vaccines will not stop infections or transmission of SARS-Cov-2 but will only reduce the risk of severe disease and mortality which the current treatment can do effectively and safely," they doctors lobby said in a statement.
Their advisory is not an official position of the church and runs against a review approved by Pope Francis, who received a vaccine in January.
The review was issued on December 21 by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Catholic body responsible for safeguarding the doctrine on faith and morals.
“The morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed,” the review says.
The Kenyan Catholic doctors also dismissed the current WHO guidelines against the pandemic as outdated.
They said the crude mortality from Covid-19 in Kenya is “extremely low” at 0.0036 per cent.
“Scientifically, Covid-19 therefore does not seem to warrant the drastic measures employed for its containment as advised by WHO,” they said.
Their statement was signed by KCDA chairman Dr Stephen Karanja, a gynaecologist who opposes most vaccination to control diseases.
In Tanzania, where the government plays down the virus and refuses to take scientific measures to curb its spread, 60 Catholic nuns and 25 priests have so far died from Covid-19.
The Kenyan Catholic doctors advised the faithful to practice ‘natural immunity’ which they said comes by getting infected with the virus.
They said this can be done by wearing masks, which they said only reduces the amount of infective material inhaled.
“This gives you a higher chance of developing immunity as opposed to developing sever disease,” they said.
Separately, Unicef vaccines expert Dr Peter Okoth, who sits on the national Covid-19 taskforce for vaccine deployment, said no disease has ever been controlled through infections.
“It exposes people to danger and many can die. We don’t even know how long antibodies last for infected people,” he said.
The association further advised those who are sick to practise steam therapy, which relieves symptoms but is not evidenced to clear the virus.
“Ten deep inhalations through the nose and out through the mouth and then another 10 inhalations this time through the mouth and out through the nose being adequate.” Dr Karanja said.
They also advised sick members to use ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Azithromycin, all which are not proven cures.
WHO has strongly advised against the use of hydroxychloroquine while pharmaceutical company, Merck, says there's no scientific basis for ivermectin as a therapeutic against Covid-19.