Kenya can order Indian and Chinese vaccines to meet increasing demand

Elderly residents lining up for the Covid-19 vaccine at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (PGH) in Nakuru on March 30, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

Kenya has nearly depleted the first batch of 1.12 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, creating fears that audiences may miss out on.

Uasin Gishu is among the counties that have exhausted their first shipment while Nakuru County is running out of 30,000 doses it was given.

Dr. Kariuki Gichuki, the Nakuru County’s health officer, told The Standard that “the number of people needing a vaccination is overwhelming and we have ordered more doses to reach the target audience.”

The Director of Product Evaluation and Registration with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PBP), Dr. Ronald Inyangala, told The Standard that the process of approving two more vaccines is still ongoing to meet growing demand.

The vaccines are Covaxin from Bharat Biotech India via Simba Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Sinopharm from China via Tembe-Center Ltd.

The Covaxin vaccine approval process is halfway through and could be in the country by the end of this month.

The Chinese vaccine can last two to three months. However, these two vaccines have not yet been pre-qualified by the World Health Organization.

“So far, we’ve got at least 50 percent of the approvals for the Covaxin vaccine, and I can say it’ll be on the vaccination list by the end of this month, but the Chinese one is a bit far away.” said Dr. Inyangala.

If approved by PBP, Covaxin and Sinopharm will be added to Oxford / AstraZeneca and Sputnik V currently administered in Kenya.

Inyangala said pre-filing discussions were also held with Johnson & Johnson vaccines prior to the approval plans.

“The discussions with Johnson & Johnson prior to filing included storage conditions, as we need climatic conditions that suit us.

“We’re also looking at it in terms of manufacturing, where it’s done, and we need to validate the manufacturing process,” he said.

Of the vaccinated Kenyans, 56 percent are men and 44 percent are women.

Turkana County had the lowest intake as only 335 out of 9,000 doses were given, according to Gilchrist Lokoel, Director of Medical Services.

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“We are raising awareness and educating the public about the importance of vaccinations.

“We want to reach the entire target group in order to strengthen herd immunity,” said Dr. Lokoel.

The county’s cumulative infections are 1,237 and 22 deaths, respectively.

In West Pokot County, 1,000 people had been vaccinated by March 31.

County health director Samuel Lopar said that vaccine training was held in the sub-counties before vaccination training was introduced.

“The vaccination took place at the referral hospital in Lodwar County. The acceptance is low, but we intend to teach elderly people in the villages, ”said Lopar.

Machakos County received a shipment of 9,000 doses, of which 8,400 had been administered by Wednesday, according to health officer Dr. Ancent Kituki, who added that “the largest group to require vaccination are the elderly”.

He said the county ordered more vaccines and received 2,000 doses.

The story is the same for Vihiga County Referral Hospital, where the number of elderly people was high.

County vaccination coordinator Edith Anjere said of the 6,000 doses received, 4,500 had been administered by Thursday and “we saw no hesitation in the vaccination program, especially among the elderly.”

According to the Department of Health’s Covax distribution plan, the first phase of 495,000 doses would be distributed to nine regional depots, level VI hospitals and military level IV hospitals.

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