Wealthy Kenyans will begin receiving Covid vaccinations from private hospitals in July, following the government’s signing of an import agreement with a global alliance led by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Mutahi Kagwe, Cabinet Secretary for Health, told Parliament on Thursday that the talks will be completed by the end of June, paving the way for top private hospitals to participate in the second phase of the inoculation programme, which is due to begin in July.
In the race to expand immunization coverage, the government wants to make it possible for private clinics to obtain vaccinations and charge a “minimum surcharge.”
Supporters of the proposed plan believe it would offer vaccinations to elderly and affluent people who might opt-out or are unable to be immunized under the current government program.
“The plan is to have this framework by end of June this year so that the private sector joins the roll-out plan in July this year, when we fully actualise phase two of the deployment,” Mr Kagwe said.
Pharmaceutical behemoths behind the sought-after vaccines are limiting sales to the private sector and prioritizing deliveries to governments and multilateral organizations such as Covax, which plans to distribute two billion doses to developing nations.
Due to this ban, a host of tycoons, officials, and royalty from around the world have descended on the United Arab Emirates in recent months, where friends in high places have helped them gain early access to coronavirus vaccinations.
In Kenya, the government plans to immunize 16 million people over the next two years, with health staff, the elderly, and the disabled receiving priority.
In the controlled private sector, only a “small minority” of people who want to pay for the shots will have the opportunity.
Kenya is providing free Covid-19 vaccine shots to its residents at a cost of $7.70 (Sh845.80) per injection, as agreed under the Covax facility.
Kenya requires Sh34 billion to ship 36 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by June of next year when it plans to inoculate 16 million people.
Donors will contribute Sh20 billion, leaving Kenya with Sh14 billion in tax revenue.
In early March, the nation got 1.02 million doses, enough for marginally more than 500,000 people who needed two doses eight to 12 weeks apart. About 339,893 people have been immunized, with the bulk of them being health employees, students, and security guards.
Between July of this year and June of next year, 9.7 million those – people above the age of 50 and those over the age of 18 with chronic medical problems – will be included in the second process.
The third process, which will run simultaneously with the second, will target 4.9 million individuals, including those who live in congested areas and are considered especially vulnerable.
The race to encourage private hospitals to import the coronavirus vaccine comes despite the government’s ban on two companies shipping and administering Sputnik V shots from Russia.
Mr Kagwe went on to say that Harley’s Ltd and Unisel Pharma Ltd were barred from selling medicines because the vaccines were already under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
The two companies had delivered 75,000 doses, with a single shot costing at least Sh7,700 ($70). The Ministry of Health, on the other hand, confirmed that 527 people who got the first dose of the Sputnik V would receive a second dose.
“Gains made in the fight against the pandemic may be reversed by the introduction of counterfeit vaccines,” Mr Kagwe said.