Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe now says that a viral video of him casting doubt on the efficacy of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been taken out of context.
The CS had on the better part of Wednesday faced a backlash after he made the remarks when he appeared before the Senate’s Health Committee to give a status report on the fight against the pandemic.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, Kagwe stated that his remarks were in line with doubts that have been publicly cast by global experts on the efficacy of the vaccine.
“My attention has been drawn to a short video clip from an internal broad discussion about vaccines in which I appear to be skeptical about the efficacy of vaccines and how they work. This clip has been taken out of context as it was specifically directed at reports of Pfizer developing a vaccine that is reported to be 95% effective; this response is driven by the reaction of top medics and if well guided, perhaps we all should share in it,” the CS said.
The CS stated that the government will not commit the taxpayers’ money to preorder a vaccine which is yet to get global scientific approval.
“It is my assertion that in the absence of certainty — and in response to the doubts that have been publicly cast by global experts — we will not commit the Kenyan taxpayers money to pre-order vaccine candidate with little if any peer-reviewed evidence supporting their efficacy. We should instead wait for globally & scientifically acceptable vaccines. We are on the side of caution,” he said.
“As a Ministry, we are cognizant of the fact that there are several vaccine candidates already at the advanced clinical trial Stage 3. We are monitoring them with a view of protecting Kenyan lives and availing the safest options at the soonest appropriate time.”
The minister, who is not a medical expert, had expressed his reservations indicating that he could not comprehend how one will be injected with a “disease” to keep the virus at bay.
“Yes we are hearing there is a vaccine…Pfizer say there is a vaccine but personally to tell you the truth, I have many doubts about it because they were talking about a disease [sic] that stops people from getting the virus, ” he told the Senators.
He added, “now, I would like to know how they knew in the first place that I was going to get the virus…we are talking about treatment when I have a virus…but when you tell me that I stopped you from getting the virus…how would you know I was going to get the virus in the first place? So for me I have reservations about it.”
A section of Kenyans took to social media to troll the CS over lack of knowledge on how vaccines work.
The announcement by the pharmaceutical companies on Monday is seen as a breakthrough in the search for a Covid-19 vaccine.
The firms, in a statement, noted that nine out of ten patients who got the vaccine were protected from the virus adding that the vaccine did not have major side effects on the trial candidates.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19,” said Dr Albert Bourla, the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer chairman and CEO.
He added, “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”
The trial, the company said, will continue until there has been at least 164 confirmed cases.
Pfizer is expected to administer the jab to people aged between 16 and 85, in the US which has been one of the hardest-hit countries.