Cabinet Secretary (CS) Ministry of Health Mutahi Kagwe said Kenya is set to start local manufacture of Covid Vaccines by April next year, as it seeks to cushion its citizens from future supply hitches.
Kagwe was speaking at Kikaloh Grand Resort in Machakos during the inauguration of the new Kenya Biovax Institute Board (KBI).
He said setting up of the vaccine production plant was meant to address the vulnerability of the Country, to future health emergencies as was evident during the Covid 19 pandemic that left the country and continent exposed from shortage of vaccines.
“We currently import over 70 percent of the country’s medical products, including vaccines and Biologicals. This sometimes means that we are unable to access essential supplies due to logistical issues since importation consumes a huge chunk of our health budget,” lamented Kagwe.
“The local production of human vaccines will support public healthcare programs, National and regional economic growth and enhance capacity to control disease outbreaks that may arise in the future,”the CS said.
Kagwe said it is the first time Kenya is manufacturing human vaccines and in future there will be no more vaccine importation because Kenya has the capacity and scientists to manufacture their own vaccine.
“It is critical that in future, we do not rely on importation of vaccines but rely on our own capacity and scientists whom we have in plenty as result of putting education first in Kenya,” added CS Kagwe.
The Health CS said the venture will kick-off with a form and fill capacity at the production plant located at the new KEMSA Headquarters in Embakasi, which will help third parties put vaccines from the main manufacturers into vials before packaging them for distribution.
He noted that the basic legal and industrial requirements for local fill and finish manufacturing of vaccines has been largely achieved.
Kagwe said that the development of a wholly local vaccine production process has been initiated with support of KEMRI, which will remain the main partner in capacity building.
He added that Kenya has already initiated negotiations with a host of countries, as well as vaccine manufacturing companies to actualize the plan that will see the establishment of a fully-fledged bulk antigen production facility to produce different types of vaccine.
He noted that currently there is an increase of Covid 19 positivity rate and Kenyans are lucky it has not reached the fatality rate which still remains low.
“Hospitalization rate has begun to creep up. Kiambu County had zero hospitalization and by yesterday there were 15 people in one day with Covid and other countries have also started increasing,” he added
He pointed out that 95 percent of those hospitalized have not been vaccinated and there is a need to insist on citizens to be vaccinated before the 21st December deadline.
He urged Kenyans to prepare and get vaccinated in time and avoid last minute rush to avoid the severity the virus might cause.
He was flanked by the Board of Directors for Kenya Biovax Institute (KBI) who’s newly appointed Chairman Mr. Mugo Kibati.
By Anne Kangero