Dinlas Pharma EPZ Limited, the company that imported Russian Covid-19 vaccine Sputinik V to Kenya early this year, has sued the Nation Media Group over a “defamatory” story ran by the media house after the government suspended the vaccine in the country.
In suit papers seen by Kahawa Tungu, Dinlas is demanding USD45,590,750 (approximately Ksh4.9 billion as per current exchange rate) in damages.
Through lawyer Donald Kipkorir, Dinlas accuses the Daily Nation of insinuating that the importation and distribution of Sputnik V in Kenya was done without approval and authorization of the Ministry of Health.
“The said words, in their natural and ordinary meaning, meant and we understood to mean Sputnik V is unsafe and unfit for use in Vaccination, Dinlas is engaging in dishonest and dishonourable business conduct, Dinlas is a dissolute and profligate Company, Dinlas is unfit to engage in business,” said Kipkorir.
In what the Nation reported as “Covid Millionaires Season Two”, the paper alleged that Dinlas imported a consignment of 75,000 doses of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine without approvals even by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“As Kenyans were coming to terms with reports of how officials at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority, (KEMSA) dished out tenders at the agency; tenderpreneurs and connected State Officials went back to the drawing Board and plotted to make the next Billion from the pandemic. This time, through private imports and sale of the vaccines. The high risks involved due to emergence of counterfeits did not stop them. They did not even wait for World Health Organization (WHO) approvals of Sputnik V,” reported the Nation.
The company says it was poised to earn USD3,180,750 (Ksh343.4 million) from the 75,000 doses, and a gross income of Ksh4.9 billion from one million doses.
“The Defendants jointly and/or severally published the said words under a continuous and continuing headline of “COVID Millionaires” calculating thereby to increasing their circulation and reading by whipping and tapping into public emotion and opprobrium against corruption in the public sector and especially the health sector,” adds Kipkorir.
Dinlas wants the court to issue a permanent injunction stopping the Nation from further publishing or causing to be published words defamatory to the company.