Kenya to collect 72,000 doses of Covid vaccine from South Sudan
Kenya is about to receive a shipment of 72,000 doses of AstraZeneca / OXford vaccine that South Sudan has returned to the Covax facility.
South Sudan says it will return the doses after concluding it could not administer the injections before they expire, a health ministry official told AFP on Tuesday.
The country received 132,000 doses of the vaccine at the end of March from Covax, the global initiative to ensure low-income countries receive injections, but has so far administered fewer than 8,000 injections.
On Tuesday, the chairman of the Kenya Vaccine Working Group, Dr Willis Akhwale, told the Nation that the doses are expected by Thursday.
“I’ve finished doing the paperwork tonight … it’s all settled.” The batch of 72,000 doses of AstraZeneca will be there tomorrow or Thursday, ”he said, but noted that Unicef is the one who will determine when they will be delivered.
The announcement comes a week after Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced that there were only 100,000 doses of the vaccine left in the country.
CS Kagwe said the time was right but urged Kenyans not yet to receive their second injection not to panic, saying the first dose offered up to 70% protection.
“We are better off with a first dose than with none. We haven’t heard from people dying because they didn’t get the second dose, ”he said.
Timelines for getting the second dose of vaccine are uncertain due to a shortage caused by delays from Covax.
In March, South Sudan received 132,000 doses of Covax but the country’s national Covid-19 task force decided to return before their expiration after discussing the issue with the World Health Organization (WHO) .
“We’re struggling economically… that’s why we’re having trouble funding the deployment itself. We are tightening our belts… that is why we hope that in the next two weeks the 60,000 we have will be dispersed throughout the country, ”said the undersecretary of the South Sudan Ministry of Health, the Dr Mayen Machuot in a previous interview.
“We don’t want to run the risk of [the vaccine] expiring in our hands. It will be taken into account, so we are committed [to return] 72,000 doses for use by [countries that] can deploy them in a week, ”Dr Machuot told reporters at a press conference in Juba.
He added that South Sudan had not used its doses due to a slow initial adoption by health workers, delays in Parliament in approving the use of the vaccine and long training of people on how to use it. administration of the vaccine.
The Covax facility responded to the South Sudanese government, saying it was happy with the arrangement as the doses would not be wasted.
South Sudan will end up with 52,000 doses it hopes to use before the July 18 expiration date.
Once that batch is completed, he will request additional doses from Covax, the ministry said.
As in other parts of Africa, fear of side effects and rumors that the vaccine causes impotence or is otherwise dangerous have created distrust of vaccines among the population.
Last month, South Sudan planned to get rid of 60,000 expired vaccines it had received as a donation through African telecommunications company MTN and the African Union.
To date, South Sudan has recorded 10,686 cases of Covid-19 and 115 deaths.
The efforts of China and India
Meanwhile, India and China are stepping up efforts to help other countries get vaccinated.
The Chinese government has said Beijing is stepping up support for Africa’s post-pandemic recovery, initially focusing on access to vaccines, as a “public good.”
And last week, the Indian government, which is grappling with a Covid-19 crisis that has seen it suffer from shortages in treatment supplies, said it was pooling resources to produce more vaccines from different types.
The country has allowed more local companies to take foreign orders and deals to produce Covishield (known overseas as the AstraZeneca vaccine), Covaxin (India’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine) and Sputnik V , the Russian vaccine; all have been cleared for emergency use by WHO.
The move, officials said, was the result of the spike in infections and inadequate vaccine production by the two major private manufacturers, the Serum Institute of India (SII), which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Bharat Biotech. , which manufactures Covaxin.
Dr Randeep Guleria, an Indian pulmonologist and current director of the Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), told media that the makers of Sputnik V have joined forces with a number of Indian companies in the country to speed up the production of their product.
“New factories [are] set up by Bharat Biotech and SII in July-August. We will have a large number of doses available in about two months, we will also receive vaccines from outside, ”said the director.