The mass roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination could be behind schedule following delays in vaccine deliveries.
Kenya joined the list of various African nations that have expressed frustration in gaining access to supplies of Covid?19 vaccines as the global scramble by the world’s richest countries continues.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said that until today (February 17,) the country is yet to receive the coronavirus AstraZeneca vaccine doses ordered early this year, attributing the long wait to failure by World Health Organization (WHO) to approve other promising vaccines.
The CS made the remarks when he unveiled a malaria council, the 5th to be launched in Africa.
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Kagwe urged the UN Health body to fast track approval of locally manufactured essential medical products in the country.
Kenya was expecting 24 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University under the COVAX facility this week.
The government had ordered the vaccines through the African Union (AU) in readiness for mass roll out in three phases starting the end of this month.
Kagwe further regretted the delays by the WHO to approve locally manufactured essential medical products in the country that could help ease Africa’s disease burden.
According to the health ministry vaccine deployment plan, health care workers and those offering essential services were among 1.25 million people to be vaccinated in phase one drive that was to kick off between the end of this month and June this year.
Another 9.7 million people would have been inoculated in phase two of the exercise to be rolled out on July 1st to June 30 next year targeting the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions
Phase 3 is expected to start in July 2022 to June 2023 and will target five million Kenyans in congregate settings such as prisoners, refugees and the elderly.
Kenya has vowed to move ahead with the AstraZeneca vaccine whose efficacy has been questioned.
However, WHO Monday approved two versions of the vaccine for emergency use.
South Africa has paused the rollout of the vaccine following a small clinical trial that showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 variant dominant in the country.
WHO said the vaccines are safe for those above 18 years old and will be distributed through the organization’s COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative targeting mid- and low-income countries.
The newly approved vaccines are produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio in South Korea and the Serum Institute of India.