KENYA – Denmark will donate 358,700 unused vaccine doses to Kenya, saying the batch of Astra Zeneca will be delivered as soon as possible.

It is part of the 3 million doses that Denmark has earmarked for donation this year.

No one is safe until everyone is safe,” Denmark’s Foreign Aid Minister, Flemming Moeller Mortensen said in a statement, adding that Kenya is in a difficult situation as they have received far fewer vaccines than they should have had.

The donation will be shipped via the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF.

Kenya’s urgent need for vaccines

Kenya is actively seeking doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for second jab administration on all those who received the first injection around March this year.

Research so far shows protection from the first dose lasts for at least 16 weeks. However, Covid-19 antibodies have been found in the body up to six months after one dose.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe emphasised on vaccination of key groups, saying the cases of Covid-19 are rising.

Kenya launched its mass vaccination drive on March 5 after receiving some 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and had inoculated 968,733 people with the first dose by Saturday.

The ministry said it is relying on donations from countries with excess vaccines, as well as redistribution of vaccines from other African countries that have been unable to exhaust their supplies before expiry.

From the redistribution efforts, Kenya will this week receive 130,000 more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 72,000 doses from South Sudan.

These will be combined with the unused doses within Kenya and given as a second shot, the ministry said.

Kenya initially received 1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine from Covax on March 3, and a donation of 100,000 doses from the government of India on March 11.

Two doses offer around 85 to 90 per cent protection against symptomatic disease, experts say.A second dose also provides great protection against coronavirus strains, like the one first detected in India (B.1.617.2), which has now been reported in Kisumu and Mombasa.

According to the World Health Organization, Africa needs at least 20 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the next six weeks to get second doses to all those who had been given the first shot.

The move followed a call made by WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at the World Health Assembly for all members to support a massive vaccination push for certain age groups, mostly those above age 50 or 60.