Wealthy Kenyans Ready for First Covid-19 Jab


Wealthy Kenyans Ready for First Covid-19 Jab

Health care workers prepare to administer a Covid-19 vaccine. FILE PHOTO | AFP



  • Supporters of the new initiative believe it will provide vaccines to vulnerable and wealthy people who may be missing.
  • The pharmaceutical giants behind the wanted jabs are limiting sales to the private sector and have prioritized procurement to governments and multilateral organizations.

Kenya has opened talks with a global partnership under the World Health Organization for major local private hospitals to purchase Covid-19 vaccines for wealthy Kenyans.

A senior health ministry official told Business Daily that the state and Covax are in talks to allow private facilities like the Nairobi hospital to buy the jabs of the global partnership.

Supporters of the new initiative believe it will provide vaccines to vulnerable and wealthy people who may be missing or cannot be vaccinated under the government program.

The pharmaceutical giants behind the wanted jabs are limiting sales to the private sector and have prioritized supplies to governments and multilateral organizations like Covax – which hopes to deliver two billion doses to poor countries.

The restriction has seen a series of tycoons, politicians and royalty from around the world descend in recent months to the United Arab Emirates, where friends in high places have helped them gain early access to coronavirus vaccines.

In Kenya, the government hopes that 16 million people will be vaccinated over the next two years, with the priority being health workers, the elderly and the vulnerable.

Now the government is looking to create an option for private hospitals to acquire the vaccines and charge a “minimum supplement” in the race to expand immunization coverage.

“Discussions are ongoing about which private hospitals buy and get the jabs, but they are not straightforward as we need to have a compensation agreement with the hospitals,” said the senior health ministry official who researched anonymity as the talks are ongoing.

“We don’t have a timeline at this time as this is a complex process driven by Covax.”

The official said Kenya was planning to vaccinate its people for free and only a “small minority” who wanted to pay for the vaccines would have the opportunity in the controlled private market.

Kenya is seeking to join countries like Pakistan, which last week started importing the Covid-19 vaccine for private sale.

“Just like other vaccines like polio, we will allow private hospitals to offer it because the idea is to vaccinate as many people as possible. It will be necessary to regulate the vaccine and private hospitals will only be allowed to charge a service fee for the vaccine, ”the official said.

Kenya is offering free Covid-19 vaccines to its citizens at $ 7.70 (845.80 shillings) per injection, as negotiated as part of the Covax facility.

Kenya has returned to the World Bank for a 10 billion shillings loan to help buy Covid-19 vaccines following a funding gap that threatens the country’s vaccination plan against the infectious virus.

The money will buy 11 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that will be used to immunize five million people.

The Treasury did not allocate 4.5 billion shillings needed for the next round of Covid-19 vaccination from July, increasing the risk that targeted Kenyans could miss the shot.

This forced Kenya to seek help from the World Bank in an economy facing a deteriorating cash flow situation characterized by declining income and worsening debt service obligations.

Kenya needs 34 billion shillings to ship 36 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by June next year, when it expects 16 million people to be vaccinated.

Donors will provide 20 billion shillings, leaving Kenya to collect 14 billion shillings from taxes.

The country received 1.02 million doses in early March, enough for just over 500,000 people requiring two doses eight to 12 weeks apart. This would cover health and home care workers and teachers.

The second phase would involve 9.7 million people – including people over the age of 50 and those over the age of 18 with underlying health conditions – between July of this year and next June.

The third phase, which will run concurrently with the second, will reach 4.9 million people, including those living in congested areas considered particularly vulnerable.

Kenya is already in talks with the World Bank for the first tranche of 5 billion shillings needed for the fiscal year starting in July.

Kenya had recorded 120,910 infections and deaths yesterday at 2,011 with the health ministry, warning of a spike in infections amid the threat of a third wave that has proven to be deadly.

More than 50 people have died from the virus in the past five days.

Covax, which is led by the GAVI vaccine alliance with WHO and other partners, aims to deliver more than two billion doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries, covering up to 20 percent of their population.

Those behind this initiative hope to level the playing field that has seen richer countries rapidly vaccinate millions of people, before poorer regions.

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