KENYA – Kenya will next year start manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines locally in collaboration with unnamed pharmaceutical firms in a move aimed at easing supply hitches that have derailed mass inoculation.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe revealed in an internal vaccination blue print that the country has started the process of building a filling plant for the Covid-19 vaccines.

A full-fledged vaccine manufacturing plant will be built by 2024, said Mr Kagwe. A fill and finish facility helps third parties put the vaccine from the main manufacturers into vials or syringes, sealing them and packaging them up for distribution.

Many manufacturers use third parties to fill and finish their vaccines and African countries like Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa are in talks with investors to start the production of coronavirus vaccines.

“To improve our vaccine supply security, the government has embarked on the local manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines starting with the establishment of a fill-and finish facility through strategic partnerships and technological transfer,” said Mr Kagwe in the National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan, 2021.

“We aim to start local production during the first quarter of 2022 and have a fully-fledged human vaccine manufacturing capability by 2024.”

Mr Kagwe said local production will help secure sufficient vaccines to boost countrywide inoculation programmes.

Kenya plans to vaccinate 26 million adult Kenyans by end of June next year and at least 10 million by Christmas this year.

It has been acquiring doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson to supplement the Astrazeneca vaccines.

Kenya would need to secure a partnership with a vaccine patent holder to manufacture Covid 19 vaccines.

Yesterday, Kenya recorded 446 new COVID-19 cases from a sample size of 6,406 tested in the last 24 hours, marking a positivity rate of 7.0%.

This now brings the total number of confirmed cases to 244,826 while the cumulative tests conducted so far are 2,470,865.

At the same time, 21 patients have succumbed to the disease, all of them being late deaths reported after conducting facility record audits in September 2021. This now pushes the cumulative fatalities to 4,949.

On the ongoing vaccination exercise, as of September 14th, 2021, a total of 3,192,099 vaccines had been administered across the country. Of these, total first doses were 2,353,534 while second doses were 838,565.

“The uptake of the second dose among those who received their first dose was at 36.0% with the majority being males at (55%) while females were at (45%). Proportion of adults fully vaccinated was 3.1%.

The uptake of the second dose by Priority Groups was as follows: Others 257,573, Aged 58 years and above 246,016, Health Workers 137,893, Teachers 125,964 while Security Officers were at 71,119,” added the Ministry.

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