Kenya will receive the Covid-19 vaccine in small portions from 2021 until the country has enough to vaccinate the people at “the highest priority” when the vaccine is available, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced.
In a report published on its website on Monday this week, the WHO said that each country, including Kenya, will get doses that vaccinate one in every five people, which is equivalent to 9.4 million people.
However, in the first stages when the vaccine is expected to be scarce, Kenya will receive doses in little portions until the Ministry of Health has enough to vaccinate three per cent of the population.
In the document, WHO outlined how it would distribute the vaccine to Kenya and all the 156 countries that signed up for Covax, a Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan which is led by WHO Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (Cepi).
Covax was created to ensure the “equitable access and allocation of Covid-19 health products” between the world’s richest countries and those in the developing world.
Health Director-General Patrick Amoth said: “We joined the (Covax) Covid-19 facility under WHO and GAVI to ensure that we are able to access any vaccines that may result from all the current trials.” The report went ahead to specify who the 3 per cent should be.
It read: “This volume would enable, for example, the vaccination of frontline workers in health and social care settings in most countries.”
The WHO focused on healthcare workers saying that, when the vaccine is in short supply, countries should focus on protecting the health system. The other first-tier populations are adults who are at high risk due to other health conditions and age (above 65) which make them vulnerable to Covid-19 infections.
The rule of ensuring the healthcare workers get the vaccine is not cast in stone, but is only a recommendation that the WHO hopes that each country will adhere to. The health body leaves the decision on who is most at risk to the Kenyan government.
However, Kenya is expected to report on how they decide the priority groups. During his media briefings, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who heads the WHO, said that priority would be given to those who are most vulnerable.
At the beginning of the trials, scientists in Africa had raised concerns over how rich countries would buy poorer nations out of the vaccine. Acknowledging these tensions, Dr Tedros stated that the WHO would ensure that the vaccines are for “some people in all countries and not all people in some countries”.
In the second phase, as the vaccines are produced in large numbers and become more available, Kenya will get a dose to be administered to people where the transmission is most active.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, this would be the capital city Nairobi, Mombasa, Kiambu and Kajiado, which collectively account for seven in ten of all the new cases in the country.