MP wants State to shed light on Oxford vaccine

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020 00:00 |
Abdulswamad Nassir.

A Member of Parliament wants the government to publicly give the status of the alleged Oxford University’s Covid-19  vaccine trials in the country.

Mvita legislator Abdulswamad Nassir says he had taken note of the fact that  AstraZeneca Plc, the company that was contracted to conduct research on behalf of Oxford has been suspended from operating in the United Kingdom but allowed to do so in Kenya.

UK has not given any explanation that informed the decision.

“I have noted with great concern that Covid-19 vaccine trials were halted in the United Kingdom days ago, and as such, fail to understand the rationale behind their continued experimentation in our country.

It is on account of this expectation that I seek a statement from the Chairperson of the Departmental Committee on Health,” stated Nassir. 

According to Nassir, who is also the Public Investment Committee chair, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) is currently engaged in multilateral partnership with Wellcome Trust and the University of Oxford under the Kemri-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Research Programme. 

The research is aimed at expanding the country’s capacity to conduct multidisciplinary medical research.

Oxford has engaged AstraZeneca Plc, a British-Swedish multinational biopharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, England, to develop a Covid-19 vaccine on its behalf by conducting differentiated human trials in Kenya.

Nassir wants the Health Committee to explain if any Covid-19 vaccine trials have been undertaken in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic and whether there are any clinical trials currently in progress.

Tough guidelines

“What prompted the suspension of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials in the UK, and whether a similar suspension was done in Kenya?” Posed Nassir.

Further, the MP says the committee should explain if any key stakeholder in the country was consulted before Oxford was granted green light to conduct its Covid-19 vaccine trials in Kenya.

“Committee should also tell how many similar Covid-19 clinical trials have been carried out in the country so far, and their respective status,” he said.

However, President Uhuru Kenyatta has since denied any involvement in the search for the vaccine between the country and Oxford University.

 “There are those saying that research is ongoing where Kenyans are being used as guinea pigs for vaccine tests. There are no truths to such allegations,” Said Uhuru.

The President assured that his Government would notify Kenyans in case of any plans to conduct the vaccine tests in the country. 

“Kemri and Primate Research Institute are involved in a global effort to try and find a vaccine.

Once we have found one and reached a point where the vaccine can be tested on humans, we shall let you know,” he said.

The Ministry of Health also denied knowledge of plans by Oxford University researchers to conduct the vaccine trials in Kenya.

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