Kemri boss defends move to roll out Corona vaccination

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021 00:00 |
Kemri acting Director General Prof Sam Kariuki being vaccinated for Covid-19 at Mbagathi Hospital, yesterday. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccination drive is concurrently going on with its phase three clinical trials, Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) acting Director General Prof Samuel Kariuki said yesterday. 

Speaking after receiving the jab at Mbagathi Hospital, Kariuki defended the government’s move to roll out vaccination before completion of clinical trials.

“The vaccine has successfully passed through two clinical phases. Now we are at phase three, which has shown high efficacy against Covid-19.

It, however, has minor side effects that include slight headache and loss of appetite that do not require medical attention,” said Prof Kariuki.

Kemri boss also revealed that in collaboration with Oxford University among other research institutions, Kenya has played a critical role in this vaccine development.

Trial phase of the vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, started last year and conducted by the Kemri-Wellcome Trust Research programme in Kilifi.

Clinical development is a three-phase process. During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine.

Clinical study

In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded and vaccines are given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended.

 In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety.

“The reason we have rolled out the vaccine before the final clinical trials is because other trials have been successful.

Also, the directive by the World Health Organisation as an emergency roll out due to the pandemic,” said the Prof. 

On the safety of the vaccine to those being vaccinated, Kariuki exuded confidence, saying there is no cause for alarm.

Countries including France, Denmark, Ireland and Thailand have temporarily suspended use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine after reports that some people developed blood clots, although there is no proof that it was as a result of the shot.

 So far, over 10,000 healthcare workers and other frontline staff have been vaccinated.

At the same time, Embu Governor Martin Wambora has urged residents to continue observing the laid down health protocols to cushion themselves against the upsurge in cases of Covid-19 in the third wave being experienced in the country.

While receiving the vaccine at Embu Level Five Hospital, Wambora expressed confidence in it. 

The county boss, who is also the Chairman of Council of Governors, said the county bosses resolved to be on the forefront in receiving the vaccine to set example to their constituents.

In Kwale, Health Executive Francis Gwama said medics from private and public health facilities will be given first priority.

“We have so far trained 200 health care workers who will administer the jab. We have equipped them with skills and Personal Protective Equipment to make their working environment safe and conducive” he said. 

The second and third groups to benefit are teachers and police officers. Speaking at Msambweni Referral Hospital, Gwama noted that the vaccine will be issued on a voluntarily basis but it is important for each of them in three groups to get the vaccine.

Closed temporarily

“We will not force anyone to go for the vaccine but it is important that health workers, teachers and police officers get it as the nature of their work exposes them to a lot of people,” he continued.

Meanwhile, the Kwale County Assembly has temporarily been closed for fumigation after five Ward Reps tested Corona positive. In a statement, the Speaker Sammy Ruwa said they have suspended all sittings and gatherings for 14 days.

And in Kiambu, Governor Dr James Nyoro and his deputy Dr Joyce Ngugi have finally been vaccinated against Covid-19 at the Kiambu Level Five Hospital.

Speaking after he received the jab, Nyoro encouraged other residents, and particularly health workers to take the jab. 

The governor dismissed raging negative talks about the vaccine. “There has been a lot of discussions from the public with some doubting the efficacy of the vaccine, but the bottom line is that it is safe,” he said.

He urged the priority groups to consider taking the vaccine, saying it was safer to be vaccinated than to contract Covid-19, which is extremely costly to treat. - Reporting by Bernard Gitau, Munira Mundano and KNA

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