NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 2 – Kenya announced Friday it had banned the importation, distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines by private enterprises.
The move follows the publicity received by Russia’s Sputnik V which was rolled out in the country last week, mainly targetting the rich.
“Co-participation of the private sector in the vaccination exercise now threatens the gains made in the fight against COVID-19 and we risk having counterfeit vaccines in the market,” said Mutahi Kagwe, Health Cabinet Secretary after chairing a meeting of the COVID-19 National Emergency Response Committee (NERC).
Effectively, he said, licenses issued to private companies that imported or were distributing the vaccine had been revoked.
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board had confirmed approving the vaccine, but for emergency use only, saying marketing approval had not been issued.
The Kenyan government is admInistering the AstraZeneca vaccines acquired through the global COVAX facility.
More than 160,000 people, including President Uhuru Kenyatta have taken the jab that iniially targetted frontline workers before it was opened up for other categories and people aged over 58.
But even as Kenyatta rallied Kenyans to tae the vaccine and his Deputy Wiliam Ruto and other influential people opted for the Sputnik V.
Lawyers Ahmendassir Abdullahi and Donald Kipkorir were the first to get the Russian jab.
Reports indicate that the Russian vaccine has not been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Globally, questions have been raised on the efficac of the AstraZenneca vaccine after several cases of blood clots and deaths were reported in European countries, most of which have suspended its use.
South Africa announced last month it had stopped the use of the AstraZenneca vaccine because it was not effective on the variant detected in the country.
Kenya has said all vaccines administered in the country will be imported, distributed and administerd by the government.
“We must ensure that the protection of the use of vaccines is first and foremost on the list. It does not matter on whether other people want to make incomes out of it,” he said.
Director of Public Health Patrick Amoth however assured that Kenyans who have already been vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik Vaccine will be able to get the second dose even as its rollout now stands jeopardized.
“But remember also in a pandemic situation the national public health security takes precedence over anything else including business demands,” he said.
Sputnik V which is reported to have an efficacy level of about 92 percent, is the first such private consignment in Kenya that is being administered through a private pharmacy.
For maximum protection, it requires two doses sold at Sh5, 500 a dose which will be administered 21 days apart.