Kenya expects to receive a second batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses despite the jab being suspended in at least seven European countries over safety concerns, the Health Ministry has revealed.
This is despite Denmark, Norway, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Luxembourg suspending the use of the vaccine with claims that the dose causes blood clots in some recipients.
The Kenyan consignment will be delivered by Gavi-Covax, the Vaccine Alliance, an organization appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to oversee procurement, allotment and distribution of Covid-19 vaccine doses to 92 countries that have signed up for the Covax facility.
Taskforce on Vaccine Deployment and Vaccination chairman Dr Willis Akhwale, said that they have already distributed 492,000 doses to cater for health workers.
“The next shipment will be here latest by the first week of April but between now and May we expect the second batch of 2.5 million doses,” he said.
Asked why only the AstraZeneca vaccine is being delivered, Dr Akhwale said the main challenge is availability.
“Gavi does projections and the country chooses, Pfizer and Moderna have been having limited doses but if they become readily available we will pick them. As per the last projection, AstraZeneca was the most readily available,” he said.
He reminded Kenyans that suspension is not the same as stopping the use of the vaccine.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine being used in Europe was not made by Serum Institute of India. If we were sharing batch numbers we would also stop it,” he explained.
The medic said it is encouraging to see that Ministry of Health managed to hit 9,144 vaccinations in week one which began on March 8.
“We have now approved 622 sites to be open from next week upon people being trained. Our aim is to reach 15,000 quality vaccinations daily. We will start slowly but maintain quality, and we are not in a rush,” said Dr Akhwale.
The taskforce plans to achieve 1.2 million vaccinations in three months.
“The data reflecting 9,144 nationwide vaccinations is from 40 counties reporting and we did 2,000 a day which is a good start considering week one was about planning and logistics,” he disclosed.
On Friday, WHO, in an official briefing, said that the Covax facility had so far delivered almost 29 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to 38 countries. “Globally, 335 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to 144 economies, 76 per cent of those are in ten countries, “WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.