BOOSTERS NEEDED?

Will we need third Covid doses? Kagwe to explain

Five vaccines are administered in Kenya; senators want to know when efficacy wanes.

In Summary
  • Kagwe will be required to explain whether third doses will be needed and by whom. He will be required to list Kenyans who have died of side effects.
  • The CS will also outline the government’s long-term plan to provide vaccines to all Kenyans.
A patient receives the AstraZeneca vaccine at KNH during a mass vaccination on August 8.
CURBING COVID SPREAD: A patient receives the AstraZeneca vaccine at KNH during a mass vaccination on August 8.
Image: MERCY MUMO

Senators want the Ministry of Health to explain the efficacy period for Covid-19 vaccines and whether it would be necessary for some or all people to have a third dose.

And will it be free?

Nominated Senator Petronila Were has petitioned the House, through the Health committee, to summon the CS Mutahi Kagwe to explain the efficacy period of the various vaccines in Kenya.

Currently, five brands of Covid-19 vaccines are being administered. They are AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Sinopharm.

Data for AstraZeneca, which is widely being used, is scarce.

But emerging data show antibodies produced by the Pfizer vaccine decrease sharply six months after the second injection.

“There is strong evidence coming out now that the third booster dose is necessary,” Health CAS Rashid Aman told journalists last week.

“For AZ it is not yet clear. But what is emerging in the scientific field is that these vaccines we have currently in place, most of them give protection for a period of time, after which that protection tends to wane,” he added.

Other studies have estimated that people immunised against Covid-19 would lose approximately half of their defensive antibodies every 108 days or so.

“These are vaccines that have been developed quite rapidly and in that sense the period of research on them to determine a number of things, including how long immunity lasts and all that we didn’t have the luxury to do that,” Aman added.

With the emergence of the data, the senators want Kagwe to state whether the government will provide the booster vaccines free of charge.

“The CS (through the committee) should indicate whether the government will provide the vaccines free of charge post the efficacy period,” Were said.

In addition, Kagwe will also be required to provide a list of the number of Kenyans who have died as a result of the side effects, with respect to each of the vaccines.

The CS will also outline the government’s long-term plan to provide vaccines to all Kenyans.

(Edited by V. Graham)