Kenya Among 92 States Set To Get Cheap COVID-19 Vaccine

Kenya is among 92 low-and-middle-income countries that are set to benefit from a low-cost Covid-19 vaccine that is currently on trial from 2021.

The Melinda Gates Foundation and The Vaccine Alliance have contracted Serum Institute of India (SII) to accelerate manufacture of 100 million doses of “safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries in 2021.”

The vaccines will be made available to nations included in GAVI’s new financing instrument aimed at encouraging manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual Covid-19 vaccines and to ensure access for developing countries. The alliance is also accelerating delivery of the vaccines which will be priced at USD3 per dose (Sh300).

The Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), the new financing instrument, is currently seeking at least $2 billion “in initial seed funding, will meet at least part of the cost of procurement for the vaccine doses,” the organisation stated.

Vulnerable countries

“Too many times we’ve seen the most vulnerable countries left at the back of the queue when it comes to new treatments, new diagnostics and new vaccines,” said Dr Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Among the vaccines which SII will be manufacturing will be AstraZeneca’s ChAdOx1 and Novavax’s antigen vaccine- the NVX-CoV2373.

In the new collaboration, ChAdOx1 will be available to 57 countries Gavi-eligible countries while Novavax’s vaccine will be available to all 92 countries which are supported by AMC, stated Gavi.

There are 202 vaccine candidates under different phases of trial, 25 of which are undergoing clinical testing. ChAdOx1 is on a large scale clinical trial in Brazil, South Africa and the UK, while Novavax vaccine candidate is under Phase I and II clinical trial.

Other top vaccine candidates in various stages of clinical trial are Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate, BioNTech/FposunPharm/Pfizer, Sinovac, Beijing Institute of Biological Products, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, and CanSino Biological vaccine candidates.

Kenya is participating in a randomised controlled clinical trials of TCZ and remdesivir. An observational research on TCZ published by the Lancet Rheumatology shows that “patients … requiring ICU support who received tocilizumab had reduced mortality.”

TCZ is an antibody from a single source, and targets the interleukin-6 receptor (cytokine) to “mitigate the cytokine storm syndrome”. Cytokines are secreted by certain cells of the immune system and are associated with severe Covid-19.

Genome sequencing

Kenya is also participating in Covid-19 genome sequencing, testing and molecular immunology–a study meant to see if Covid-19 immune response is the same for Kenyans as is in other countries.

“There is stem cell therapy research ongoing and another research on regenerative medicine. In the past two weeks we have been developing study protocol that will look at the use of plasma,” said Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi.

Kenya is also undertaking an epidemiological research to understand the disease patterns, said Dr Mwangangi.