BILATERAL TALKS

Kenya asks US for share of 60m AstraZeneca doses stockpile

By Sunday, 886,288 people had been vaccinated against Covid-19

In Summary

•The US has a stockpile of the vaccines even though its regulators are yet to authorise it for public use in the country

•The decision by the US to provide raw materials to Indian vaccine manufacturers has also rekindled Kenya’s hope to receive their second consignment of the AZ vaccine before the end of this month

A nurse holds a bottle with contents of AstraZeneca vaccine at Mutuini Hospital, Dagoreti on March 9, 2021
A nurse holds a bottle with contents of AstraZeneca vaccine at Mutuini Hospital, Dagoreti on March 9, 2021
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

Kenya has asked the US for part of its 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses held in storage.

The Health ministry said bilateral talks are ongoing but did not say how many doses Kenya would get. 

“We have reached out to the highest levels of the US government that has some extra 60 million doses of AZ because they have overproduced their Pfizer and the others so they have extra and we are looking at acquiring some of those,” Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said.

Kagwe said talks are ongoing with other governments to acquire alternative vaccines or more AstraZeneca doses.  

Last week, the White House said it will be sharing its 60 million AstraZeneca doses with countries that have approved the use of the vaccine as they become available.

The US has a stockpile of the vaccines even though its regulators are yet to authorise it for public use.

Officials from the US Food and Drug Administration are expected to conduct quality checks before the doses are exported to the beneficiary countries.

The US government had been criticised for hoarding vaccines yet other countries such as India, which are battling deadly waves, are desperately in need of the doses.

"Our team will share more details about our planning and who will be receiving offers from here, but we're in the planning process at this point in time," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The decision by the US to provide raw materials to Indian vaccine manufacturers has also rekindled Kenya’s hope to receive their second consignment of the AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of this month.

By Sunday, 886,288 people had been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the country. Out of these, 158,103 are healthcare workers, 137,581 teachers and 74,464 security officers. The other 516,140 are members of the public, including those aged above 58 years.

The government expected the second consignment of 2.5 million doses last month but the India Serum Institute placed a ban on exports to be able to service the domestic demand as the country battles a deadlier second wave.

“India also had another challenge of raw materials from the US but now that has been allowed and we are hoping that things will improve,” vaccines deployment task force chair Dr Willis Akhwale said.

The government is hopeful that the second consignment of the AstraZeneca vaccine might land in the country this month. The Covax facility has procured some doses outside India for distribution to countries in the platform.

Kenya has changed the vaccination schedule amid global supply chain challenges.  Those who were to get their second dose early this month will do so from next month.

Kagwe said Covax informed Kenya of the delay in the shipment of 2.5 million doses allocated from February to May 2020.

(edited by o. owino)