Kenya expects to receive a batch of 24 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in January 2021, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Wednesday, December 16.
Kenya opted for the AstraZeneca vaccine over the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as it does not require complex cold storage facilities.
“The ministry and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) are carrying out tests. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in an ordinary fridge, unlike the Pfizer one, which has to be kept in extremely cold temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius,” Health CS Mutahi Kagwe told journalists.
Individuals who interact with crowds and those with underlying medical conditions are expected to receive the vaccine first.
Healthcare workers, the elderly, teachers and police officers will be given priority in receiving the vaccine.
The first batch is expected to cover 20 per cent of the population. Health Director General Patrick Amoth disclosed that the country had submitted its proposal to the World Bank’s Covax programme by December 7.
The vaccination drive is to be supported by funds from development partners and the government.
“The first 24 million doses, which will be for free, are from Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi). We have set aside another Ksh10 billion (about $100 million) to cover an additional 10 per cent of the population,” Amoth revealed.
The Covax programme aims to ensure individuals in Low and Middle Income countries receive the Covid-19 vaccine in 2021.
It targets the delivery of two billion vaccine doses to 20 per cent of the most vulnerable people in 91 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
It will rely on cheaper vaccines as opposed to the frontrunner Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Already, Covax has agreed supply deals for 400 million doses of the vaccines from AstraZeneca, Novavax and Sanofi.
Health CS Kagwe disclosed that the government was ramping up readiness to distribute the vaccine by training health workers and putting structures in place.
“A team has been formed to work on logistics and training of staff who will handle the vaccines. We are lucky to be involved in several vaccine programmes,” he stated.
Kagwe disclosed that the government was also engaging Chinese pharmaceuticals on the potential Covid-19 vaccines.