President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered all Cabinet Secretaries and the Executive to take the Covid-19 vaccide jab.
Confirming the directive Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita said this will go along away to demonstrate the good will and safety of the vaccine to Kenyans.
Kenya received a second batch 100,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from the Government of India.
India High Commissioner Virander Paul said the vaccine is manufactured in India and the gift of 100,000 doses is a good step towards corporation.
The country on Thursday recorded 1,463 new Covid-19 cases from a sample size of 8,976 tested in the last 24 hours.
This brings the positivity rate to 16.3%, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said.
From the cases, Kenyans continue to lead with 1,428, as 35 cases are foreigners.
In terms of gender, 802 are male and 661 are females, with the youngest being a three-month-old infant while the oldest is 103 years old.
This now brings the total number of positive cases in the country to 126,170, with the cumulative tests standing at 1,443,701.
The country has witnessed 489 patients recover from the disease with 372 from the home based and isolation care while 126 are from various health facilities.
This now brings the total to 91,268.
The Teachers Service Commission has continued to encourage teachers to take the vaccine. TSC said 44 teachers have so far succumbed to Covid-19 related complications since the outbreak of the virus in March last year.
TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia made the revelation during the launch of the vaccination drive for teachers.
The drive will prioritise teachers aged 50 and above, Macharia said in Nairobi.
However TSC has not revealed how many teachers fall in that age bracket.
Macharia said both teachers in private and public schools will be considered for vaccination.
Macharia termed the vaccine a major breakthrough to the education sector and emphasized teachers to take part to protect themselves and the learners for quality curriculum delivery.
“Walimu tujikinge na COVID19! Take the Jab for free! Today TSC launched the teachers’ covid -19 vaccination program. While taking the vaccine, the Commission Secretary, Dr Nancy Macharia, called on teachers to take advantage of this exercise,” TSC said through its facebook handle.
Dr. Willis Akhwale who is leading the program said the program for injecting health workers was a major success and hope the same will happen to teachers.
Willis Akhwale who is also the chairman of the Covid-19 taskforce for vaccine deployment asked teachers to turn up for the jab in large numbers and assured them that the vaccine is safe.
“The launch of this vaccine is a clear demonstration that the government is committed to ensure learning continues,” said Dr Akhwale.
He said the vaccine has undergone phase three clinical trials.
“A vaccine will not be registered if it is not safe,” he said.
Dr Akhwale said the health ministry has established 575 vaccination posts across the counties where all frontline workers will access the vaccine.
He said the ministry has also established the Chanjo Kenya platform where teachers and anyone to be vaccinated can pre-register before going for the vaccination.
The Ministry of Health has however asked Kenyans not to take Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine which entered the country this week.
The ministry said it cannot yet vouch for the vaccine’s safety or efficacy although it has been granted emergency use authorisation in Kenya.
The vaccine is already being used in 36 countries but is facing a pushback from European countries mainly due to business rivalry.
Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi said the manufacturer, the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, is yet to furnish Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board with all required information for full licensing.
“A technical agreement stipulating the responsibilities of all the parties involved in the distribution is yet to be submitted to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board. What this means is that the vaccine has therefore not received all the necessary regulatory approvals for use in the country,” she said.
Mwangangi claimed the Sputnik V vaccine is not even available in Kenya yet.
However, Syokimau-based importer Dinlas Pharmaceuticals said Sputnik is in Kenya and Ministry of Health officials know this.
Nishant Mishra, an official of Dinlas, told a local newspaper they have yet to begin distributing it to hospitals, awaiting final clearance from PPB.
“We used Freight in Time Ltd as our clearing agent,” he said.
Mwangangi said full market authorisation comes with a set of stringent measures that include tracking of batches of the commodity and reporting of the pharmaco-vigilance.
Interim results published in the Lancet last month indicate that the vaccine is 91.6 per cent effective, based on its ability to prevent symptomatic infection.
No serious adverse events were detected during trials since last year. Most adverse effects were mild, with just over half experiencing pain at the injection site.
Leading Kenyan pathologist Dr Ahmed Kalebi gave Sputnik vaccine a thumbs up, saying it is highly effective in preventing severe Covid-19 disease and deaths, just like other approved vaccines.
“It’s very good and is top three in the world in terms of efficacy,” he told the Star.
The top two are Pfizer and Moderna at 95 per cent, while from fourth position are Novovax (90 per cent), Sinopharm (79 per cent), AstraZeneca (76 per cent) and Johnson and Johnson (72 per cent).
PPB on Wednesday admitted authorising the vaccine.
“The Pharmacy and Poisons Board in reviewing the Sputnik V considered all aspects of quality, safety and efficacy. It is wholesomely safe,” the board said in a statement.
“It is the duty of the ministry as guided by the national vaccine and immunisation programme to determine what vaccines to buy based on factors such as the cost and cold chain considerations.”
Doubts were seeded when President Vladmir Putin surprised the world by announcing Russian approval for emergency use of Sputnik V as early as August 2020, before phase I or II data had been published and before the phase III trial had begun.
Putin was vaccinated with the vaccine last Wednesday, boosting confidence in the jab.
Approximately 3.5 million Russians had received both doses of Sputnik V as of March 15. The mass vaccination in the country started on January 18, 2021 for all adults and no other vaccine is approved in the country.
On Wednesday, a German official at the European Commission asked the EC to launch a joint purchase of Sputnik V for the EU.
“We have asked the commission to launch a procurement procedure for Sputnik,” the official told reporters at a briefing in Berlin, adding that “we are seeing now that the commission is in the process of launching this procedure.”
However, the head of the EU’s medicines regulator said the agency would visit the Sputnik V production and clinical facilities as it decides whether to authorise the vaccine for the bloc.