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Kenya is among countries in the world that have approved emergency use of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. /AFP.

Capital Health

Kenya approves Russia’s Sputnik V COVID vaccine for emergency use

NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 24 – NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 24 – Kenya confirmed Wednesday it had approved emergency use of Russia’s Sputnik V CPVOD-19 vaccine for emergency use.

The approval comes barely two weeks after the government launched a nationwide vaccination drive for AstraZeneca vaccine whose eficacy has been questioned by experts leading to suspension by several countries in Europe. South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo have also paused its use.

On Wednesday, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board said it had approved Sputnik V vaccine.

“Yes, he application for Emergency Use Authorization has been evaluated and approved,” the board said in a statement, that warned “Note: this is not a registration.”

On whether Kenya plans to purchase the vaccine, the board said, “The Pharmacy and Poisons Board role is the authorization and safety monitoring of medicines and health technologies. It’s the duty of the Ministry of Health as guided by the National Vaccine and immunization programme to determine what vaccine (s) to buy based on factors, such as, cost and cold chain considerations.”

Russia has developed three vaccines — Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac — though most of the attention has focused on Sputnik, named after the first satellite launched into space by the Soviet Union.

The vaccine has been registered under the emergency use authorization procedure and is is one of only three vaccines in the world with an efficacy of over 90 percent.

Currently, Kenya is using the AstraZeneca vaccine which has an efficacy of 62 percent and over 40,000 Kenyans have so far received the jab.

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Kenya received just over one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, which was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, under the UN-led Covax initiative which is assisting poorer countries to receive the medicine.

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday received his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, his spokesman said as Russia looks to boost a vaccination campaign that is faltering despite having produced three home-grown jabs.

Putin joined other world leaders who have received jabs including US President Joe Biden, Pope Francis and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

But unlike many others who were vaccinated in public, Putin’s vaccination took place in private.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told news agencies late on Tuesday that the 68-year-old Russian leader was vaccinated but did not specify which jab was administered.

“Putin has been vaccinated against the coronavirus. He feels well. Tomorrow he has a full working day,” Peskov said, according to state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

Earlier on Tuesday, Peskov said that Putin, who has never been media shy during his two decades in power, did not want to get a jab in front of the cameras.

“We will not show this, you will have to take our word for it,” Peskov told reporters. 

Peskov said the Kremlin chief would receive one of three Russian vaccines, declining to specify which one “on purpose”.

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“All three Russian vaccines proved their effectiveness and reliability,” Peskov said.

Russia’s vaccination campaign has been slower than in many countries but Peskov said Putin did not have to get vaccinated in public to encourage more Russians to get jabs.

“The president is doing a lot to promote vaccines as is,” Peskov said.

Only about four million of the country’s 144 million people have so far received two doses of a vaccine, while another two million have had a first dose.

Vaccine scepticism runs high in Russia, with a recent opinion poll showing less than a third were willing to be inoculated, and close to two-thirds saying they believed the coronavirus is a man-made biological weapon.

The country has been among the hardest hit by Covid-19, with more than 4.4 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 95,000 deaths.

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