Covid 19 VACCINE: What you need to know about it

While Covid 19 Vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine) have already been rolled out in the USA and other parts of the world, Kenya will receive the first batch in January, 2021 according to Mutahi Kagwe, The Country’s Minster of Health.

He further stated that Oxford-AstraZeneca will be preferred to Moderna and Pfizer because it is cheaper and easier to store.

Here is what is we know about Oxford-AstraZeneca.

Manufacturers

The vaccine is being manufactured by The University of Oxford partnering with a British-Swedish company known as AstraZeneca. The vaccine is scientifically labelled as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or AZD1222.

The vaccine is designed from a virus, that is a weakened version of a common cold virus , adenovirus, that has been genetically altered making it impossible for it to grow in humans. 

Why Oxford-AstraZeneca?

The vaccine Oxford-AstraZeneca is considered beneficial for lower income countries and those in hot climates since it is far much cheaper.

Considering that it does not require extreme cold storage, the vaccine becomes easier to transport and can be stored for longer periods of time at normal fridge temperatures.

Is it approved?

By 19th December 2020, this vaccine was still under review. However, there were reports that the vaccine would be approved by 28th December. The delay of approval was apparently caused by complications surrounding the results of the first trial.

Although further trials are being conducted in Kenya, the designers of the vaccine in UK only remain hopeful that the vaccine meets approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

Efficacy

Data from the vaccine’s latest trials in the UK show that the vaccine had an efficacy of 62% for persons given two full doses and 90% efficacy for persons given a half dose, then a full dose at least a month later. This is an average efficacy of 70%.

According to scientists in The University of Oxford, there were no hospitalized or severe cases in anyone who received the vaccine.

A report recorded in The Lancet also states that older people respond favorably to the vaccine. This should be good news to the elderly who are at high risk of catching the fatal Covid-19.

Recently, Oxford University have reported that the vaccine can prevent majority of people from developing the disease following the Phase 3 trial of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.  

What do these findings mean for people living in Kenya?

Kenya has settled for this vaccine because of its four parameters :vector carrier, WHO pre-qualified, cost-effective and it does fit within the existing cooling system of 2 to 8 degrees according to acting Health director general Patrick Amoth.

Kemri also reports that initial data produces good results.

Only 20 million doses have been ordered by Kenya and this will only cover 20% of the country’s population.

The Health Minister stated that those to be given first priority  would be heathworkers, those who come into contact with crowds, persons with two or more medical conditions, police officers, the elderly and then teachers.

The vaccination of the above is expected to be done in the first quarter of the year.

There were earlier reports that Kenya might not gain full access to more affordable vaccines until possibly past 2022.

The President though, sees a saviour in China, having ordered his Ministry to look towards China for a Covid-19 vaccine. This move might come in to save Kenya by offering a quicker solution to curb the crisis.

Until then, we shall still be required to wear masks, keep social distancing, avoid unnecessary travelling and wash /sanitize our hands regularly.

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