Medics, teachers first in line for Covid jab

Nanyuki Primary School headteacher Winrose Maina addressing Grade 3 pupils on January 4, 2021. PHOTO | JAMES MURIMI | NMG Kenya has ordered 24 million Covid-19 vaccine doses that are expected to arrive mid-February with initial beneficiaries being healthcare workers and teachers.

Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe said an order for the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine had been placed through Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI).

AstraZeneca vaccine is preferred because it is cheaper and easier to store compared to Pfizer/BioNTech, and Moderna vaccines.

“We expect the vaccines to be here in the first two weeks of February and front line workers will be given priority,” Mr Kagwe said yesterday in Mukurweini, Nyeri.

Aside from the government’s consignment, more vaccines are expected from CDC Africa which has a purchasing platform for vaccines and from the private sector.

He said that the vaccines are welcome as long as they are World Health Organisation (WHO)-approved and have clearance by the government of Kenya.

Pfizer has priced its vaccine at $39 (Sh4,350) for a two-dose course given three weeks apart and the vaccine needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celcius or below.

The Oxford vaccine, at a price of around Sh454 (3 sterling pounds)and can be stored in a regular fridge temperature while Moderna’s Sh3788 (25 sterling pounds) vaccines needs minus 20 degrees Celcius storage.

Kenya has 97,398 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 and 1,694 fatalities, with schools reopening amid social distancing challenges. The start of vaccinations will help ease devastating trade and travel restrictions which have slowed economic activities, hurting jobs and corporate earnings.

At the height of the Covid restrictions and shutdowns in the second quarter 2020, for example, the economy slumped into a trough with gross domestic product (GDP) — a measure of economic output — shrinking 5.7 percent, and more than 1.7 million persons losing jobs..

About 1.72 million workers lost jobs in the three months to June when Kenya imposed coronavirus-induced lockdowns that led to layoffs and pay cuts as firms battled falling sales and losses.

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