MoH preselects Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine awaiting WHO Approval

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BY KORIR JUMA,NAIROBI,19TH DEC,2020-The Ministry of Health has selected Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as its preferred COVID-19 immunization plan citing affordability and ease of storage under Kenya’s climatic conditions.

Health Director-General Patrick Amoth said the country expects free 24 million doses which will cover 20 per cent of the population with an additional 12 million doses set to be procured at the cost of Sh10 billion to reach another 10 per cent.

Speaking in Murang’a during the opening of Santamore Surgical Hospital, Amoth said the vaccine, which is yet to be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), met the ministry’s vetting threshold.

“Under COVAX facility, Kenya is expected to get 24 million doses of the vaccine and we are looking at four parameters in a vaccine;  vector–carrier developed, WHO pre-qualified, and one that fits in the cold chain system of 2-8 degrees centigrade and one with lowest prices,” he said.

Kenya  is a signatory of the COVAX facility which was was created by GAVI, UNICEF and the WHO in search of one common vaccine.

The Health DG noted that the vaccine which is awaiting WHO greenlight will be prioritized to frontline healthcare workers, teachers and uniformed officers.

Among those who will benefit include frontline healthcare workers in both public and private health sector (1 percent of population), those above aged 50 years (10 per cent  of population), those with co-existing conditions(8 per cent of population), teachers and uniformed sec officers (2 per cent of population).

“Kenya participated in clinical trials of the vaccine,” Amoth noted adding the chosen vaccine has met all the parameters required and has shown good efficacy including safety .

“It’s not going to be a silver bullet, we cannot immunize all Kenyans at a go, it’s imperative we continue to observe COVID-19 measures,” he added.

Amoth said Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which have been widely circulated in USA and UK following approval by WHO require unique cold chain storage systems which many countries do not have.

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