COVID-19 vaccine: Government allocates hefty budget for second phase
National Treasury has set aside Shs 7 billion for the second phase of its COVID-19 vaccination.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said the amount has been allocated in the second supplementary budget to be tabled in the National Assembly.
“These funds will be used to acquire additional vaccines for the months of May and June,” CS Yattani told a Senate Health Committee on Monday.
“The vaccines will be acquired through the COVAX facility and the amounts will be paid directly to the suppliers and manufacturers,” the CS added.
The CS noted the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) whose work is to procure, warehouse and distribute drugs and medical supplies for prescribed public health programs, will not be engaged in acquisition of vaccines and its distribution.
In the first phase, Kenya received over one million AstraZeneca vaccines that arrived in two batches.
One batch came via the global COVAX initiative, which aimed to provide equal access to COVID-19 vaccines, and a 100,000-shot donation came from the Indian government.
The first phase was meant to run until the end of June 2021. The initial plan was to vaccinate high priority groups, such as frontline healthcare workers.
A few weeks into the rollout, the target group was expanded to include all Kenyans older than 58 years.
This expanded the original target from 1.25 million people to about 3.2 million in the same time period.
Over 750,000 Kenyans vaccinated so far. With a total recorded 152,523 coronavirus cases, 103,838 recoveries and 2,519 deaths.
Last week, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has said the government was pursuing acquisition of one million doses of vaccines each from Pfizer as well as Johnson and Johnson respectively to supplement the Astrazeneca vaccines.
Kagwe said there shall be a delay in delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines, which have already been rolled out in Kenya, forcing the Government to outsource in other areas.
“The African Union has negotiated with Johnson & Johnson to enable Countries purchase the vaccine at discounted prices.” Kagwe said.
However, the CS noted the situation in India, which is experiencing a surge in cases and deaths of Coronavirus patients, has occasioned a problem in supply of vaccine.
“We intend to acquire different vaccines to back up what we have. Our challenge is the global supply of the vaccine we have been using.” He added.
Kagwe noted that Pfizer which requires minus 70 degrees in storage, if acquired by the government would not pose any challenge since the government would also acquire the special storage facilities to go with them.
Kagwe said Kenya has only three sources where it acquires the vaccines.
They include the government-to-government arrangements; like the recent donation of 100,000 doses acquired from the government of India.
Kagwe noted that under the Covax facility, Africa had expected to acquire 75 million doses but so far only 12 million doses had been delivered.