The World Health Organization has called on countries to use the Astra Zeneca vaccine even if the new Covid-19 variants are present.
This call follows earlier reports that had indicated that the vaccine was not very effective against mild and moderate cases of the South African 501Y.V2 variant.
The global health agency has however, stated that after a review of all available data by the agency’s strategic advisory group of experts, it was concluded that the Astra Zeneca vaccine is likely to protect people against severe Covid-19.
According to the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the most important consideration must be to protect the most vulnerable from severe illness and death.
She said: “ Along with rolling out safe and proven vaccines, we must also work towards a diverse vaccine portfolio.
“At the same time, manufacturers must be prepared to adjust to mutations of the virus, including potentially providing booster shots and adapted vaccines.”
Reports has it that Kenya, has ordered for 24 million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, enough for 20 per cent of the country’s population.
The first batch of the vaccine will most likely reach the country next week.
It was learnt that first priority will be given to health care workers, security personnel and teachers, vulnerable persons and hospitality sector workers.
The Health CS Mutahi Kagwe had said the government plans to reach at least 1.25 million Kenyans with the Covid-19 vaccine by June in the first phase of the drive.
According to a brief prepared by the Council of Governors and presented to the counties ahead of rollout, deployment and vaccination plan for the programme will cost Sh34 billion over 30 months.
Kagwe revealed the second phase is expected to run from July 2021 to June 2022 during which 9.7 million more Kenyans will receive the jab depending on availability of the vaccines.
“ The target population in this phase will be Kenyans aged above 50 years and those above 18 years of age with underlying health conditions, ” he said.
He said plans by the ministry show the third phase of the vaccination drive could run concurrently with the second phase, depending on availability of adequate vaccines, with the hope of reaching 4.9 million people who will include all other vulnerable populations.
“It is important to note that if vaccines become available sooner than expected and resources are available the targets may change,” Kagwe said. However, Gavi said it will initially supply just a few doses to cover frontline workers and people with pre-existing health conditions (4,176,000 doses, according to a schedule shared by Unicef, Gavi and the WHO).