The Kenyan government is in advanced negotiations to purchase the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the Covid-19 vaccines rollout taskforce has said.
This follows a shortage of the AstraZeneca vaccine after India banned exports despite Kenya ordering 24 million doses
Dr Willis Akhwale, who is the head of the vaccine taskforce, on Monday said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available this year.
Dr Akhwale said Kenya is taking a two-pronged approach by procuring through the Africa CDC platform and negotiating directly with the manufacturers.
“Under the African CDC we are at very advanced stages and for us, the vaccines that are available there include the Pfizer, and we expect Johnson and Johnson later in the year to be available,” he said.
“I know for AstraZeneca currently there are challenges but it is true we are looking at Pfizer, we are also looking at Johnson & Johnson and any other that may become readily available as long as it meets our condition that, one, it has WHO approval and second, it is locally registered,” he said.
Dr Akhwale also noted that Pfizer is preferable because it can be used to vaccinate children at least 16 years of age.
“The Pharmacy and Poisons Board is currently reviewing applications from Sinovac vaccine and I understand Pfizer is also preparing its papers. However, the ones that have already been prequalified by WHO are Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca,” he said during a media meeting organised by the Editors Guild and Unesco.
Kenya has also revised its vaccination schedule and now seeks to vaccinate all 25 million adults by June 2022.
The taskforce chair said the government is engaging Gavi to unlock the stalemate with India.
We had planned to give the second dose after eight weeks because Covax had assured us we’d get the second doses in April. But they later communicated there would be a delay for one month. We are sure we will get them in May and I will even discuss with them today,” he said.
“We can stretch eight weeks to 12 weeks between the first and second dose.”
As of Monday, a total of 702,170 people had been vaccinated according to the Ministry of Health.