By Victoria Magar
Kenya has received 130,000 more doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.The vaccines, which arrived in Nairobi on Thursday morning, came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has said it is unable to administer about 1.3 million doses before expiry on June 24.
The DRC received 1.7 million doses through Covax on March 2 but has only administered a paltry 400,000 over fears the vaccine could lead to rare blood clotting.
Unicef redistributed the remaining doses to several countries including Kenya, Central African Republic, Ghana, Senegal and Togo.Head of vaccines deployment task force Dr Willis Akhwale confirmed the doses arrived safely in Nairobi.
He said another 136,000 are remaining from Kenya’s vaccination exercise countrywide.The total 266,000 doses will now be given to Kenyans who received the first dose in March.
“Kenyans should expect to receive the second dose beginning early next week. We will begin with Kenyans who received their jabs in March because they need to be given within the 12 week period,” he said.
This means Kenya has vaccinated about 950,000 people since the exercise began on March 5, Kenya received 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine from Covax on March 3, and a donation of 100,000 doses from the government of India on March 11.
The manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India indicated the shelf life of the vaccines is six months but could be extended to nine months. The World Health Organization is waiting for more data on this before it can issue guidance.
Dr Akhwale said Kenya will also receive about two million of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in August.Kenya ordered 30 million doses from the US manufacturer but the deliveries will be spread out till end of next year.
“That’s the discussion we are having. We expect to receive two million doses of the J&J every month beginning August, but there is no firm assurance at the moment. It’s part of the discussions we are having,” Akhwale said.
He also assured Kenyans more doses from the Covax facility will be shipped into the country next month.
“We have received that verbal assurance, but it’s still not on paper because of manufacturing constraints. But we want to assure Kenyans we will get the vaccines because also the US donation (80 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab) will be distributed to beneficiary countries through Covax.”
The Covax facility is a plan supported by the WHO and other partners to distribute Covid-19 vaccines to poor countries.