The government is set to drop the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in favour of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from US.
According to Health CS Mutah Kagwe, AstraZeneca has not been able to supply enough doses following the sponsorship worth Ksh390 million through the COVAX facility.
Speaking during the Annual Commonwealth Health Ministries Meeting, Kagwe said that the government had set aside her own resources to procure an additional 10 million doses. This was to be added to the 24 million doses that were to be received through the COVAX facility.
“Kenya was to receive 24 million doses of the vaccine at a cost of USD 3.6M, through the COVAX facility, and had set aside her own resources to procure an additional 10 million doses. But so far, we have only received 1 million doses,” said Kagwe.
“We note with concern inequalities in the availability, access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. We are of the opinion that there is a great and urgent need to redirect these funds to other vaccine manufacturers with capacity to supply us with the vaccines. Specifically, Johnson and Johnson would be the best alternative since it comes with the added advantage of being a single dose regime and hence reducing logistical challenges.”
Kagwe also urged COVAX and Gavi fast track the redistribution of unused Astra Zeneca dozes to countries that are able to use them quickly, to avoid expiry of vaccines.
He also urged for a re-design of the vaccines and medicines production approval system to create a level playing field in processing applications for WHO prequalificatio.
“We need a paradigm shift to have an approach that provides technical assistance and facilitates production of quality products in the African countries. This will promote local and regional production in its various forms, be it contractual, form and fill or even full manufacturing,” added Kagwe.
He also pleaded for a change in taxation and duty regimes to create an enabling environment that preferentially supports local manufacturers to compete fairly with importers.
At least 900,000 people have been vaccinated so far, with worries escalating due to lack of a second dose.