Kagwe: Why we banned private importation of Covid-19 vaccine

Health ministry mum on compensation as Sputnik V importer seeks to ship out vaccine

The private company that imported the Sputnik V vaccine is seeking to re-export the Russian-manufactured drug.

This follows last Friday’s move by the Ministry of Health to ban importation, distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines by private enterprises.

“The company is now in the process of officially applying. The letter of intent has already been given to PPB,” said Kariuki.

He noted that there is “normally a procedure of re-exportation of medicine,” which the firm is adhering to.

However, Kariuki did not name the company or state the amount it had imported but promised to submit to the Senate committee a copy of the letter the PPB received from the company.

Health CAS Rashid Aman, in his submissions to the committee, said those who had received the first dose of Sputnik V and were due for the second dose after three weeks would complete the vaccination.

He said the decision was arrived at since mixing of vaccines is not recommended by both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other experts due to their different modes of action.

“This criterion will only apply to the 527 vaccination cases which had been reported in the Chanjo-KE System at the time of the ban,” Aman stated.

Sputnik V received publicity when it was rolled out in the country almost two weeks ago.

Deputy President William Ruto and other influential personalities were among those who opted for the Russian vaccine.

There has been no indication Sputnik V is inferior to AstraZeneca, which is the vaccine being administered to Kenyans at no cost.

Before its suspension, Sputnik V was being administered at a cost of between Sh7,000 and Sh11,000 per dose.

Narok Senator Ledama Olekina regretted that private entities spent huge amounts of monies to import the vaccines after receiving authorization from the PPB only to be stopped from distribution and administration.

“Why should private entities bear the brunt of the disconnect that exists between the Ministry of Health and PPB,” he wondered.

Aman maintained that no private entity will be involved in the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“Our plan is to procure the vaccines through the COVAX Facility, the Africa CDC platform and directly from manufacturers through bilateral agreements,” stated Aman.

75,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine were imported to Kenya and only 527 of those had been administered at the time the government announced the private importation ban of Covid-19 vaccines.

This is according to the Health Ministry in response to the Senate Standing Committee on Health on reasons that led to the ban.

In a detailed report seen by Standard Digital, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe (pictured) said the government arrived at the decision after it was made aware of the irregular deployment of the vaccine, which it says could have reversed the gains made in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic by way of introducing counterfeit vaccines in the market.

“The appointed distributors were engaged in the marketing of the vaccine in contravention of guidelines issued by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, which prohibit marketing when a product is still under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA),” the report said.

The National Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19 (NERC), the team tasked with handling Kenya’s Covid-19 preparedness said that it chose to put on hold the private sector importation, distribution, and administration of the said vaccine in the interest of public health safety.

The Health Ministry admitted that the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) had given Emergency Use Approval for the Sputnik V vaccine in Kenya through a private pharmacy.

“Sputnik vaccine went through the necessary process at the PPB to ensure safety, quality and efficacy. The emergency authorisation was based on conditions,” MoH said on Thursday.

The Mutahi-Kagwe led ministry however maintains that persons who had received the Sputnik jab will get their second doses as scheduled.

The CS also said that no private entity will be involved in acquiring the Johnson and Johnson vaccine and only the government is allowed to procure the jab.

Kenya hopes to have vaccinated over 400,000 people by the end of this week and have all vaccinated persons get their second doses starting May 5.

Further, Kagwe said that they are monitoring adverse effects of the covid-19 vaccine, some of which include fever and headaches.

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