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By Goodluck Musinguzi & Agencies

Kenya is disappointed with its projection of receiving Covid19 vaccines especially Johnson & Johnson after they paid Ksh 14.3 billion to procure 13 million doses.

Dr. Willis Akhwale, Chairman of the National Taskforce on Covid-19 Deployment and Vaccination in Kenya represented Health Cabinet Secretary Sen. Mutahi Kagwe at the airport to receive the vaccines.

Akhwale said the Government had projected to be receiving one million doses of Johnson and Johnson between August and December and about two million from January. However, he said whereas there are challenges in the global supply chain, the Government was hopeful that Kenya will receive more doses of Johnson and Johnson in the coming weeks.

“We are happy with the increased doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines as they will be used in our primary health care facilities, as well as our mobile outreach units,” he added. Akhwale noted that the vaccines are set to increase the number of those fully vaccinated significantly as they were a single shot dose.

Kenya on Wednesday received a consignment of 252,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine in yet another boost to the ongoing National accelerated Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

The doses, which landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport aboard an Emirates airline at 1.35 pm, have been directly procured by the Kenya Government.

Addressing journalists at the airside, Akhwale said was the batch was the second consignment of Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses that had been directly procured by the government. He noted that the Government had made a provision of Ksh 14.3 billion to procure 13 million doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines in the current financial year and that this was part of that provision. With the arrival of today’s doses, the country has now received 393,600 of the expected 13 million doses.

Akhwale said Health CS Mutahi Kagwe had made it clear that for the country to fully open up the economy, Kenyans must be vaccinated. He said to date, close to 4 million people had been vaccinated and that the ministry hopes to vaccinate another 1.8 million people by October 20th. He urged Kenyans to turn out to get the jab since there were enough vaccines in the country now.

Dr. Akhwale however pointed out that whereas there were counties that had done very well in the vaccination campaign, there were some, particularly in the Western and Nyanza regions where vaccination was low.

He said counties like Kakamega with an eligible population of one million had only fully vaccinated slightly over 20,000 people. It is the same case with counties like Homa Bay which had so far vaccinated about 10,000 people from an eligible population of 600,000.

Akhwale said the Ministry, through Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, had this morning expressed those frustrations when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Health. He pointed out that the Senate had promised to mobilize political leaders in those counties to assist in the ongoing vaccination campaign.

Kenya on Friday September 3, received its first consignment of 141,600 doses of Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccines purchased through the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust Mechanism (AVAT).

Kenyan government has purchased under the African Union pooled procurement mechanism.

While receiving the vaccines at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi, Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Health, said the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine are easily stored and have a longer shelf life. The vaccines, therefore, require fewer logistics and operational cost.

“The Johnson and Johnson vaccines we have received today will ensure that Kenyans are fully vaccinated quickly. This is a road map towards having local manufacturing of vaccines in Africa,” said Ms Mwangangi, adding that the Ministry of Health will prioritize the distribution of Johnson and Johnson vaccines towards the primary health care level.

“The vaccines are of great utility particularly in reaching primary health care level of our health system where uptake of vaccines is low.”

She said the single dose vaccine will ensure this population is vaccinated quickly, considering the mobile nature of the different population to ensure they are covered as we fight against the Covid 19.

Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade Division of the Economic Commission for Africa who was at the airport with the Kenyan government officials and AVAT Strategic Partners (Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Afreximbank) to receive the vaccines said, “this is a big moment for the continent as we are witnessing the country’s efforts to protect its citizens by securing vaccines made in Africa for Africans.”

“It is a demonstration that African countries can indeed pool their resources together and manufacture essential medicines and vaccines for themselves and at the same time create market for it. This is a confirmation that local production of vaccines and pooled procurement of pharmaceutical products are possible as envisaged in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” said Mr Karingi.

If fully implemented, he said, the AfCFTA will provide African countries with an opportunity to boost local production of pharmaceutical products like these vaccines and end the continent’s over dependence on imported medicines and vaccines.

According to AVAT, with the 141,600 vaccines delivered today, we hope to continue the efforts toward increasing the number of fully vaccinated persons, while expediting efforts towards the delivery of additional doses to Kenya and the wider African continent

“As vaccines become available, we encourage governments to avail them to as many people as possible while imploring each and every individual to get vaccinated with any and all available vaccines as guided by the Ministry of Health while continuing to observe the set guidelines by the ministry of health,” said AVAT in a press statement.

On August 5, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that the African Union (AU) would start monthly shipments of vaccines acquired by the AVAT to the AU Member States.

The agreement with Johnson & Johnson was made possible through a $2 billion facility provided by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

The AVAT initiative is a partnership between the AU Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Monthly shipments of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines will continue with a target of delivering almost 50m vaccines before the end of December. It is expected that by January 2022, the number of vaccines being released will be in excess of 25m per month.

Through AVAT African Member States collectively purchased 400 million vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population against Covid 19.

The AU expects to immunize a third of the African people and bring Africa halfway towards its continental goal of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the population.

About Musinguzi Goodluck

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