Hope is fading in Kenya that it will meet its target of vaccinating at least 30 % of its population by 2023 against COVID-19 after India halted exports to meet demand at home following an ongoing coronavirus crisis.
On Monday, the East African nation received a donation of 358 000 doses of the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine from Denmark to boost its vaccine rollout program.
Less than 200 000 people have received the second dose of the vaccine, while just over 900 000 received the first dose. It is highly likely that thousands will miss out on the second dose.
In March this year, Kenya received just over a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility. The vaccines were manufactured in India by the Serum Institute. India has since curbed exports to meet domestic demand.
Kenya had expected the second batch of 3 million doses this month that has now been halted leaving the country to seek donations.
Monday’s donation is a drop in the ocean but a much-needed shot in the arm for thousands of Kenyans who are awaiting their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Had we not received this donation today we would basically have no vaccines in the next coming weeks,” says Kenya’s Department of Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache.
Indeed, a visit through several health facilities in Nairobi tells the story that is now replicated across several African countries, a total halt in the rollout of the vaccination program.
Doctors’ Union Secretary-General Dr. Davji Bhimji Atellah says there have been extreme vaccine shortages across health facilities in the country. Kenya had set itself a target of vaccinating 30% of its population by 2023, now even that not so ambitious target remains elusive.
This has prompted international rights group Amnesty International to start an online campaign demanding that Kenya allocates funds towards buying alternative vaccines to cover all eligible citizens.
They argue that so far even the few vaccines that the country has received have not been equitably distributed. To date, only 192 000 Kenyans have been fully vaccinated, even as the country stares at a 4th wave of COVID-19 infections.