Health ministry mum on compensation as Sputnik V importer seeks to ship out vaccine

The 527 who had received first dose of vaccine will be allowed to complete second dose.

In Summary
  • The company is now in the process of officially applying
  • The private sector is expected to join in the roll-out plan of the vaccine in July this year
Abigail Owilla, a nurse administers covid-19 vaccine jab to a health worker at Mutuini Hospital, Dagoreti on March 9, 2021.
Abigail Owilla, a nurse administers covid-19 vaccine jab to a health worker at Mutuini Hospital, Dagoreti on March 9, 2021.

The private company that imported the Sputnik V vaccine is seeking to re-export the Russian-manufactured drug.

This follows last Friday’s move by the Ministry of Health to ban importation, distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines by private enterprises.

The Health ministry has, however, remained silent on whether the firm will be compensated for the loss.

Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) deputy director Dominic Kariuki told the Senate’s Standing Committee on Health that the private firm has since written to them seeking to re-export the vaccine.

“The company is now in the process of officially applying. The letter of intent has already been given to PPB,” said Kariuki.

He noted that there is “normally a procedure of re-exportation of medicine,” which the firm is adhering to.

However, Kariuki did not name the company or state the amount it had imported but promised to submit to the Senate committee a copy of the letter the PPB received from the company.

Health CAS Rashid Aman, in his submissions to the committee, said those who had received the first dose of Sputnik V and were due for the second dose after three weeks would complete the vaccination.

He said the decision was arrived at since mixing of vaccines is not recommended by both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other experts due to their different modes of action.

“This criterion will only apply to the 527 vaccination cases which had been reported in the Chanjo-KE System at the time of the ban,” Aman stated.

Sputnik V received publicity when it was rolled out in the country almost two weeks ago.

Deputy President William Ruto and other influential personalities were among those who opted for the Russian vaccine.

There has been no indication Sputnik V is inferior to AstraZeneca, which is the vaccine being administered to Kenyans at no cost.

Before its suspension, Sputnik V was being administered at a cost of between Sh7,000 and Sh11,000 per dose.

On Thursday, Aman said the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) put on hold the private sector’s importation, distribution and administration of vaccines until such a time there will be greater transparency and accountability in the entire process.

Aman further said distributors of the vaccines were engaged in marketing of the drug in contravention of the guidelines issued by the PPB.

Asked whether the private entity concerned with the importation of the Russian vaccine would receive compensation in light of the fact that they had been licensed and had received all approvals, the CAS said the ministry was not in a position to pronounce itself on the matter.

Narok Senator Ledama Olekina regretted that private entities spent huge amounts of monies to import the vaccines after receiving authorization from the PPB only to be stopped from distribution and administration.

“Why should private entities bear the brunt of the disconnect that exists between the Ministry of Health and PPB,” he wondered.

Aman maintained that no private entity will be involved in the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“Our plan is to procure the vaccines through the COVAX Facility, the Africa CDC platform and directly from manufacturers through bilateral agreements,” stated Aman.

He nonetheless pointed out that the ministry of Health has constituted a team with representation from the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council and the PPB to develop a framework that will guide private sector’s involvement in the importation, distribution and administration of vaccines in future.

“The plan is to have this framework in place by end of June this year so that the private sector joins in the roll-out plan in July this year,” he explained.