Sputnik importer seeks to re-export 75,000 vaccines
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Dinlas Pharma EPZ Limited, the importer of the Russian-manufactured Sputnik V vaccine, is stuck with over 75,000 doses after the government stopped its use in the country, it has emerged.
The company will also not be compensated for loss of income following the government decision to ban its use in Kenya, Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman stated.
The company, senators heard, is seeking clearance from the government to re-export the drug following its ban.
According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB), the private firm has since written to it seeking authorisation to re-export consignments of the vaccine.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health on Thursday, PPB head of Good Distribution Practices and Ports of Entry Dr Dominic Kariuki explained that his board had received a notice to re-export Sputnik V vaccine previously approved for emergency use in the country.
“The company is now in the process of officially applying for re-export. The letter of intent has already been given to PPB,” Dr Kariuki said.
“They have to re-apply because there is a procedure of importation and exportation of medicine, that is where the private firm is,” he told the committee chaired by Trans-Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito.
Dr Aman, in his submissions to the nine-member committee, however, assured those who had received the first dose of the Sputnik V and were due for the second dose after three weeks that they would receive it.
They include Deputy President William Ruto and prominent lawyers Ahmednassir Abdullahi and Donald Kipkorir.
“This criterion will only apply to the 527 vaccination cases, which had been reported in the Chanjo-Ke system at the time of the ban,” Dr Aman told the senators.
Defending the ban, Dr Aman said the decision was arrived at as a matter of Public Health policy.
He said mixing of vaccines is not recommended by the World Health Organisation and other experts due to their different modes of action.
At the same time, Dr Aman has ruled out any possibility of compensating the firm that imported the Russian vaccine and its two distributors.
The CAS, who represented the Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, said despite the private firms being licensed and receiving approvals to import and distribute the vaccine, they did not comply with the emergency use authorisation.
“They did not disclose where the vaccines were being delivered and who was delivering the vaccines. There were protocols put in place by the taskforce on how they were to be deployed and who was to administer them,” the CAS added.
Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina, who is a member of the committee, yesterday said private entities had spent huge amounts of money to import the vaccines after receiving authorisation from the PPB only to be stopped from distribution and administration by the government.
“Why should private entities bear the brunt of the disconnect that exists between the Ministry of Health and PPB?” he asked.
According to the CAS, the government plan is to procure vaccines through the global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility through which the country is getting the Astrazeneca vaccine.
Besides, vaccines can be obtained from the Africa CDC platform and directly from manufacturers through bilateral agreements.
“If and when Johnson and Johnson vaccine becomes available under any of these mechanisms, the government will procure or in the case of COVAX receive it as a donation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the MOH has constituted a team to engage the private sector to develop a framework, which will guide their involvement in the importation, distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines.
“The aim is to ensure we come up with a transparent and accountable system that will ensure public health safety at all times,” the CAS said.
“The plan is to have this framework in place by end of June, so that the private sector joins the rollout plan when we actualise phase two of the deployment,” he added.