Kenya to start local manufacture of Covid vaccines in April next year - Kagwe

Kagwe says Kenya is in vaccination mode.

In Summary

• The CS said the government had clearly communicated vaccination was not mandatory.

• Kagwe, however, maintained that the country was in vaccination mode.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe addressing the press at Kikalloh Grand Resort Hotel in Machakos County on Tuesday, December 14.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe addressing the press at Kikalloh Grand Resort Hotel in Machakos County on Tuesday, December 14.

Nobody will be forced to get a Covid-19 jab, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe has said.

Kagwe said he does not understand why somebody went to court over the issue.

“We have said it so many times; nobody will be forced in any manner or form to be vaccinated. That isn’t what the ministry intends to do,” Kagwe said.

He addressed the press shortly after presiding over the inauguration of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and Kenya Biovax Limited (KBI) board of directors at a Machakos hotel on Tuesday.

The CS said the government had clearly communicated vaccination was not mandatory to institutions, including the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

Kagwe, however, maintained that the country was in vaccination mode hence the announcement on December 21 for all Kenyans to be vaccinated to access certain public services still stands.

“However, your right not to be vaccinated doesn’t mean that then you become a threat to those who need to be vaccinated,” Kagwe said.

“So, if you want to get onto an aircraft, if you want to go to England, you need to be vaccinated. You need to have a Covid – 19 negative certificate,” he added.

“If you want to go to court to say that the British Airways should not be asking you for a Covid – 19 certificate, you are free to do so. You will need to have a certificate if you want to board British Airways.”

Kagwe said the government had the responsibility to urge Kenyans to get vaccinated because it helps save lives.

“So, to shy away from that responsibility is being irresponsible as a government. If you want to come to government offices because we have many people visiting those offices and we don’t want to expose them to the virus, go online or make a telephone call. If you want to visit physically, it’s only fair that you get vaccinated otherwise you expose everybody else,” Kagwe said.

He said there will be no need for lockdowns if most Kenyans are vaccinated.

“The reason that will cause a lockdown is that there are not many people going for vaccines. But if we get vaccinated, there will be no need for lockdowns since the fatality rate will continue getting low,” Kagwe said.

Kagwe said the idea of a lockdown was to prevent people from interacting so as not to get sick.

“This isn’t a Kenyan measure but worldwide, Kenya is in vaccination mode,” he said.

He said the ministry will on Wednesday meet the Council of Governors to deliberate on the issue.

Kenya is set to start local manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines by April next year as it seeks to cushion its citizens from future supply hitches. Supply hitches had derailed efforts to vaccinate its adult population.

Speaking during the inauguration of the new Kenya Biovax Institute Kagwe said the setting up of the vaccine production plant was meant to address the vulnerability of the country to deal with future health emergencies.

“As you already know, we currently import over 70% of the country's medical products, including vaccines. This sometimes means that we are unable to access these essential supplies due to logistical issues not forgetting that importation consumes a significant chunk of our health budget. The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the challenges associated with lack of local capacity in this area,” Kagwe said.

Kagwe said the local manufacturing of highly specialised Healthcare products by institutions such as the Kenya Biovax Institute will be a significant step towards self-sustenance in supply and availability of medical commodities.

“The local production of human vaccines will support public healthcare programmes, National and regional economic growth, national security as well as enhance the capacity to control disease outbreaks that may arise in the future,” he said.

Kagwe said the venture will kick off with a form and fill facility at the production plant located at the new Kemsa headquarters in Embakasi, Nairobi, which will help third parties put vaccines from the main manufacturers into vials before packaging them for distribution.

“It is safe to say that the basic legal and industrial requirements for local fill and finish manufacturing of vaccines have been largely achieved. The development of a wholly local vaccine production process has been initiated with the support of Kemri, who will remain the main partner in capacity building,” he said.

Kenya has already initiated negotiations with a host of countries as well as vaccine manufacturing companies to actualise the plan that will see the establishment of a fully-fledged bulk antigen production facility with a capacity to produce different types of vaccines. The country is also working on capacity building with a focus on research and development. 

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