KENYA will receive the first batch of 13 million COVID-19 vaccine shots from Johnson & Johnson in August, President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced, helping to accelerate the country’s vaccination drive.
Like other nations on the continent, the East African country has struggled to secure vaccines for its citizens, to allow it to fully lift restrictions aimed at containing the pandemic.
Only 1 million Kenyans, out of 47 million, have had a first jab and only 300,000 are fully vaccinated, according to the health ministry.
As a result of the deal for the J&J shots and other initiatives, the country will accelerate its vaccines deployment plan, Kenyatta said in a televised address.
“We will vaccinate the entire adult population of 26 million Kenyans by 2022,” he said, more than doubling the initial goal of vaccinating 10 million people by mid next year.
Kenya had struck a deal to get 13 million shots from J&J for the price of 10 million doses, Kenyatta said, adding that the fact that the vaccine is administered in a single shot will help hasten the programme, with 150,000 doses being administered daily from August.
He extended containment measures, including an overnight curfew, for another 60 days.
Kenyatta spoke after the World Bank approved $130 million of additional funds for Kenya to help it buy vaccines to tackle the pandemic.
Kenya has been hit by deadly waves of COVID-19 infections this year, forcing it to re-impose strict, partial lockdown measures.
“This additional financing comes at a critical time when the government of Kenya is making concerted efforts to contain the rising cases of COVID-19 infections,” said Keith Hansen, the World Bank’s country director in Kenya.
The financing will help Kenya buy vaccines through an African Union facility set up for that purpose, as well as through COVAX, the global scheme for sharing vaccines equitably.
The funds will give the government a “flexible approach to select a portfolio of vaccines that best suits local capacities, timings of delivery, and vaccine approvals,” said Jane Chuma, a senior health economist at the World Bank.
The cash will also be used to boost Kenya’s cold chain facilities for storage of vaccines, training of health personnel and other associated activities.