RACE AGAINST TIME

Kenya to buy Chinese Covid-19 vaccine

It will join South Africa and 13 other African countries; the jab is 79 per cent effective

In Summary

• The Sinopharm vaccine is the first non-western vaccine to receive WHO’s emergency use authorisation.

• On Tuesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe Kenya also placed an order of 30 million Johnson and Johnson doses to be delivered within a year.

Abigail Owilla, a nurse, administers Covid-19 jab to another health worker at Mutuini Hospital, Dagoreti, on March 9, 2021.
Abigail Owilla, a nurse, administers Covid-19 jab to another health worker at Mutuini Hospital, Dagoreti, on March 9, 2021.
Image: File

Kenya is planning to buy millions of doses of Sinopharm, the Chinese vaccine that was approved by the World Health Organization on Friday last week.

Sinopharm is the first non-western vaccine to receive WHO’s emergency use authorisation.

A member of Kenya’s vaccine deployment taskforce told the Star there is hope of getting more doses of Sinopharm than Pfizer and Johnson &Johnson, which are in high demand and are being hoarded.

“It (Sinopharm) has an efficacy of 79 per cent against symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection so it’s extremely good, but it also requires two doses, about four weeks apart. It’s also not affected by the rampant hoarding of western vaccines,” the official told the Star.

The head of the taskforce, Dr Willis Akhwale, did not immediately respond to request for confirmation.

The vaccine will be listed on the WHO-supported Covax facility, where China has promised to donate 60 million doses.

WHO’s Emergency Use Listing also allows countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and administer Sinopharm.

The approval makes China the only non-Western country to have received WHO backing for its vaccine, which affirms its quality, safety, efficacy and accessibility.

WHO listed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use on December 31; AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine on 15; and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) March 12.

Late last month, South Africa announced it would buy 10 million shots of Sinopharm, which is also in use in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

On Tuesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe Kenya had also placed an order of 30 million Johnson and Johnson doses, which would be delivered within a year.

During a meeting by Africa’s health ministers last Saturday, Kagwe proposed that all the money raised via the Covax initiative be used to pay for 200 million doses of Pfizer and another 210 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“With this arrangement, Kenya will not pay anything and will be able to easily get and vaccinate 30 million people with Johnson and Johnson, which is being manufactured in Africa and will be a single dose.

Kagwe warned Kenyans that there were no miracles in the acquisition of Covid vaccines.

The CS said the nationalisation of the Astrazeneca vaccines by the Indian government has forced 93 countries around the world to look for alternatives elsewhere.

“There are no miracles regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine. We have to live with the current situation as we find alternatives. In any case, we have until July to worry about the second dose,” the CS told the Star last night.

He, however, assured those who took the first AstraZeneca jab not to worry about any negative effect saying, “your immunity against the disease is more than 60 per cent meaning that if you get the virus you are likely to suffer fewer symptoms. No one will die because they did not get the second dose.”

 

Edited by F'Orieny