Kenyan Government Steps up War Against Covid-19

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For the first time, Pfizer vaccines from the United States have landed in the country.

The country received 795,600 doses of the expected 1.4 million doses of Pfizer vaccine provided by the US Government.

Due to the nature of the Pfizer vaccines, they can only survive in extremely low temperatures which is minus 70
degrees. The government thus had to make prior arrangements with its partners to acquire ultra-cold storage and install it to maintain the quality of the vaccines.

Pfizer vaccines from the United States

To enable the use of Pfizer vaccines in Kenya, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has recently procured 12 ultra-low temperature freezers and accessories with funding from the Government of Japan.

The Pfizer vaccine is the 4th type of Covid-19 vaccine to be deployed in the country making an approximate number of doses received so far over into the country 6.3 million in their various assortments.

These vaccines will go a long way in accelerating the country’s effort to vaccinate as many of its citizens as possible against the deadly virus.

According to the  United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Kenya Deputy Representative Mr Jean Lokenga, another 1,236,690 doses are due to arrive during the coming weeks.

“The World Health Organisation has so far approved six COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, including all four now available in Kenya – Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer. I would like to emphasise that all WHO and Government of Kenya approved vaccines are safe and effective.” he said.
“We also supported the installation of the ultra-cold storage at the central depot in Kitengela plus eight regional depots and have trained technicians in their maintenance and operation. These ensure that the Ministry of Health can store vaccines that require very low temperatures, including the Pfizer vaccine.”Mr Lokenga added.
The country also recently received some 200,000 Sinopharm Covid-19 Vaccine doses from China. Sinopharm vaccine is a two-dose vaccine with a 28-day gap between the first and second dose.
To ensure the quality of the vaccine, the acceptable temperatures are between 2 to 8 degrees. This will therefore fit in very well in the current cold chain storage capacity in the country’s vaccine stores.

Speaking during the receiving of the doses,

Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, who was representing Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the consignment will go a long way in accelerating the ongoing vaccination campaign as Kenya strives to immunize 60% of its population.
Mochache said the Kenyan government continues to commit funds for procurement of vaccines by engaging manufacturers and other stakeholders both at the national and regional level to ensure all those who are eligible access vaccines. This even as she called on health facilities to ensure they upload information of every person being vaccinated to the Chanjo platform.
“This is important in ensuring that we get accurate reports for purposes of planning. I want to caution here that those facilities that will not comply shall be delisted as vaccination centres.” Warned the PS.

COVID Update in Kenya

According to data from the ministry of health, the positivity rate is now at 5.9 percent. Total confirmed positive cases are now 245,781 and cumulative tests so far conducted are 2,486,331 as of September 17.
“A total of 1,472 patients are currently admitted in various health facilities countrywide, while 3,309 are under the Home-Based Isolation and Care program. 119 patients are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 86 of whom are on ventilatory support and 27 on supplemental oxygen. 6 patients are under observation. Another 543 patients are separately on supplemental oxygen with 505 of them in general wards and 38 in High Dependency Units
(HDU).” a statement signed by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe read in part.

Also Read: Another 180,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines arrive in Kenya

What does this mean for Kenya?

Kenya’s war against the global pandemic is intensifying. The country is putting up long-term measures like the installation of cold storage to ensure that the vaccines remain viable after landing.

The government is now working to ensure that the issues relating to the slow delivery of vaccines are addressed.

“The circumstances leading to this slow delivery are beyond our control. However, the Government is making efforts to engage with manufacturers and other stakeholders both at the national and regional levels to ensure our people access vaccines like other countries,” said the health CS.

The World Health Organisation has so far approved six COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, including all four now available in Kenya – Astra Zeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer.

“Kenya is prioritizing those aged above 58 years, health care workers, security officers, and teachers, who remain at the highest risk of contracting the virus, in the ongoing vaccination drive. The government is targeting to increase daily vaccination rates to 150,000 by December this year. Vaccination posts will also be increased from 800 to 3,000 by December with the number rising to 7,877 by June next year.” a statement from the ministry of health reads in part.

The Health CS also recently commissioned the newly renovated labs at KEMRI. These are expected to boost the research efforts on new diseases in the country. The labs have been fitted with modern equipment that helps capture data on new diseases as well as the morphing viruses. This is very good for the country as it will strengthen the country’s capacity to handle emerging and re-emerging diseases such as COVID-19 as well as Ebola among others in the region.

Also Read: How the Kenyan Economy performed in 2020 a mid COVID-19

Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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