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Covid vaccines trickle to Kenya, but most Africans won’t benefit until 2023

Coronavirus has left many countries wanting to get a suitable vaccine to ensure they prevent their people from the viral disease.

By 2021, three vaccines had been proven to be at least 90 per cent effective against the disease.

This has in turn given hope to those who had lost hope in fighting the disease that emerged from Wuhan, China, in 2019.

These vaccines include but not limited to Pfizer, Moderna (US) and AstraZeneca-Oxford University (UK).

The vaccines are expected to be rolled out on a massive scale in developed countries from 2021 to around 2024.

In Kenya, the Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced in January that the country had ordered 24 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.

Kagwe said that the vaccines are expected to start arriving next week in Kenya.

The vaccine, which was ordered through an African Union and the Gavi-led Covax initiative, is aimed at ensuring African nations are not left behind.

Should the vaccines arrive in the country in time, it will be enough to inoculate about 20 per cent of Kenya’s population by end year.

However, the vaccines will be first given to the vulnerable groups between February and June.

The doses, the Health Ministry says, will be distributed first to the frontline workers and those in the vulnerable bracket.

Also categorised as frontline workers are teachers, meaning they will also be part of those receiving vaccines once they are available.

This will be the first phase of a three-phase vaccination programme against a second wave of the pandemic that Kenya is facing.

The second phase is planned to witness the vaccination of 9.7 million more Kenyans from July 2021 to June 2022.

Kenya will seek an extra 11 million doses on top of 24 million already ordered.

As wealthier nations race ahead with mass immunisation campaigns, Africa is scrambling to obtain supplies for its 1.3 billion people.

According to the Economist Intelligence unit, middle-income countries and most low-income countries, Kenya included, will be relying mostly on Covax.

The goal of Covax is to deliver two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and/or WHO prequalification by the end of 2021.

Covax brings together over 189 countries in search of one common vaccine.

The Economist notes that Covax supplies may be slow to arrive, especially if delays in the production for and delivery to richer countries push back delivery dates for poorer nations.

“In these developing countries, widespread vaccination coverage will not be achieved before 2023, if it happens at all,” it read. 

Kenya expected to receive the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine next month from the contracted manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India (SII).

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