Third Eye

Mass vaccination the magic bullet against Covid-19

Monday, August 9th, 2021 00:00 |
COVID-19: Kenya records 432 news cases as 306 recover
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/PD/FILE

The government has announced the start of a mass vaccination against Covid-19 which was rolled out in Nairobi over the weekend.

With growing confidence, buoyed by a steady inflow of vaccines from several European countries since the beginning of August, the vaccination exercise has now been opened to all.

The exercise started in markets, social halls and open spaces in estates, i.e., taking it to the people where they are. In addition, it is now widely available across Nairobi’s healthcare system.

Even more uplifting is the fact that the government’s own initiative to buy vaccines and make them available across the country is about to get off the ground. 

The government ordered 13 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines and they are scheduled to start arriving in August.

August should go down as the month in which Kenya started getting its life back. 

Vaccination has been proven to be the magic bullet against Covid. Life has largely returned to normal across Europe and much of the US where massive vaccination campaigns have been undertaken. 

Kenya has stated that it wants to vaccinate 13 million people by December 2021.  It needs to aim higher. 

2022 is an election year in Kenya. There will be frenzied political activity that the government, with most of its leading lights being players, will in all probability not have the will to stop. Unless the population is effectively immunised, disaster looms.

Mass vaccination will enable the government to fully reopen the economy. Right now, there is no imperative with greater urgency than this.

Further, it will bring to an end the whistle start whistle stop economic reopening that has been the practice since the start of the pandemic. This is the only way the economic recovery can be sustained.

Sequencing of the vaccination rollout is critical. Start with Nairobi and the satellite counties of Machakos, Kiambu, Kajiado and ensure comprehensive vaccination.

With this conurbation “healed,” the crisis of Covid in Kenya will be all but over. Kenya will have removed itself from the eye of the storm and broken the back of the infection.

Focus can then shift to the rest of the country’s key urban concentrations in descending order of severity of infections and attack rates.

The government should follow the flight path of the virus, in other words, kill the snake by cutting off its head.

However, the government must not lower its guard even after a successful mass vaccination exercise.

As has been proven in countries that have successfully vaccinated their populations, the danger from Covid will only disappear once the whole world is free from the virus.

It bears remembering that covid was a localised virus outbreak in Wuhan city in China in December 2019, which then spread across the world and caused the lockdown of the entire planet.

And that despite the massive and extremely disruptive containment measures being undertaken, Covid marches on.

Secondly, mutants have become a huge challenge. The highly contagious Delta variant started in India barely four months ago, where it wreaked havoc in that country.

It is now reportedly the dominant strain in Kenya, fueling the fourth wave the country is currently experiencing.

Worse, it is now the dominant strain globally and is upsetting the apple cart in countries that had declared victory over the virus.

Countries like the US have seen a sharp rise in infections since the Delta variant entered those countries. Clearly, there is no room for complacency even after mass vaccination.

Thirdly, the government must stay the course. Kenyans will remember the enthusiasm and fanfare with which the government launched a Covid mass testing in Nairobi’s informal settlements in 2020.

As Kenyans responded in their hundreds, the exercise petered out. The government must be serious.

It’s a race against time, a race Kenya must win. And it is good that the government has finally started the race in earnest. It must take it to the finish! [email protected]

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