Kenya's gamble on Johnson & Johnson vaccine pays off

Positive news for Kenyans

Ag. Director General for Health Dr. Patrick Amoth was the first Kenyan to take Covid-19 Vaccine

Preliminary data from Johnson and Johnson (J&J) shows that its one-shot vaccine is effective against the very infectious Delta COVID-19 variant.

Dr. Mathai Mammen, the head of research and development for J&J pharmaceutical division highlighted that the immune response generated by the vaccine lasted at least eight months.

“Current data for the eight months studied so far show that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine generates a strong neutralizing antibody response that does not wane; rather, we observe an improvement over time,” Dr. Mammen said.

The statement follows the announcement from President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday that the government had managed to purchase 13 million vaccines from the American based company.

"In the process of negotiating with this company, we managed to get a lower price. For the price of 10 million vaccines, we have negotiated for them to deliver 13 million vaccines," the President said.

The President further laid out a plan to vaccinate Kenya's entire adult population which is about 26 million people by the end of 2022.

The Ministry of Health had initially set a goal of vaccinating 10 million adults by June 2022, but President Kenyatta said the availability of the J&J vaccine will accelerate inoculation.

"By Christmas this year, we intend to have vaccinated over 10 million adults. According to our experts, we will have built a capacity to vaccinate 150,000 people every day from August 2021," he told the nation.

RISK OF FOURTH WAVE

The news comes after health experts warned the country is likely to experience a fourth wave from mid-July as a result of the highly infectious Delta variant.

The variant first detected in India is now gaining dominance over the Alpha variant in the country and is believed to have contributed to the rise in cases in the Western and Nyanza regions.

The increase in cases last month, led to the government imposing a partial lockdown in 13 counties: Busia, Vihiga, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Kericho, Bomet, Trans Nzoia, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa-Bay and Migori.

Save for essential and emergency service providers, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe discouraged movement into and out of the areas covered by the counties, which the government declared a Covid-19 red zone.

Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) research indicates the start of a fourth wave is imminent in the Coastal region and Nairobi county.

COVID-19 SITUATION

As at Thursday, 406,146 Kenyans had been inoculated with the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine while 1,010,954 people reached with one dose.

The total vaccines administered in the country to date stand at 1,417,100. The uptake of the second dose stands at 40.2 per cent with a majority of those vaccinated being men at 55 per cent.

The proportion of the adult population fully vaccinated stood at 1.56 per cent. Kenya needs to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of her population to attain herd immunity.

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