Hope for vaccine as trials move to second, third phase
The Ministry of Health delivered a ray of hope yesterday when it stated that the race to develop a potential Covid-19 vaccine was bearing fruit with researchers now moving to the second and third phase of trials.
Addressing the press during the daily briefing, Health CAS Rashid Aman and acting Director General of Health Dr Patrick Amoth said that the trial of vaccines had passed safety levels in the first 45 people.
Although Aman and Amoth tempered the hope with caution, citing the long process involved before the vaccine is released for mass usage, they said that there were good signs that it might work to protect humans against the deadly virus.
The trial AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is being conducted by Oxford University in the United Kingdom in conjunction with Kemri’s Wellcome Trust. “Kemri is involved in that trial.
It has not begun in Kenya… When the time comes we will let you know,” said Aman.
“There is a lot of hope hinged on the vaccine, there are more than 200 such efforts globally,” he added.
But Amoth who was recently appointed the Vice President of World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Executive Board was more candid, saying: “It has already gone through phase one… out of the 45, all developed immune reaction and antibodies, meaning it might work”
He said some of the side effects noted included headache, muscle pain and fever adding that researchers will have to give a smaller dosage from the 250mg that was previously given to the 45 volunteers.
“The 45 were given in batches of 45, the second phase will move to hundreds and may thousands but of course the developed countries will access the vaccine first before the developing countries,” said Amoth.
“But, you know coronavirus anywhere is coronavirus everywhere,” Amoth said, indicating that researchers will be eager to wipe the virus off the face of the earth.
However, Reuters said that positive news about the vaccine could be announced as early as today (Thursday) that it is already in large-scale Phase 11 human trials to assess whether it can protect against the deadly respiratory illness sweeping across the globe.
“I am hearing there will be positive news soon (perhaps tomorrow) on initial trials of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine backed by AstraZeneca,” Reuters wrote on its website.
The developers of the vaccine said this month they are encouraged by the immune response they have seen in trials so far and were expecting to be able to publish Phase 1 data by the end of July, it said.
Meanwhile, Aman and Amoth further cautioned Kenyans and especially the young people to exercise extreme caution saying the fight against coronavirus was entering a more dangerous phase where cases are expected to rise exponentially.
Speaking on a day in which the number of confirmed cases passed the 11, 000-mark after 461 people turned out positive from the 4, 261 samples tested in the last 24 hours, Dr Aman asked Kenyans to prepare for the worst.
“In the beginning we were just protecting ourselves from imported cases but we now have well established community transmission… we will continue seeing cases in public places and offices,” Aman said.