Kenya is in advanced negotiations to buy the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines after the Indian government banned the export of AstraZeneca to cater to domestic demand.
The country’s head of the Covid-19 vaccines rollout task force Dr. Willis Akhwale said they are procuring via the Africa CDC platform and negotiating directly with the manufacturers.
“Under the African CDC we are at very advanced stages and for us, the vaccines that are available there include the Pfizer, and we expect Johnson and Johnson later in the year to be available,” Dr. Akhwale told the local media on Monday.
“I know for AstraZeneca currently there are challenges but it is true we are looking at Pfizer, we are also looking at Johnson & Johnson and any other that may become readily available as long as it meets our condition that, one, it has WHO approval and second, it is locally registered,” he continued.
He defended the move for Pfizer since it can be used to vaccinate children as young as 16 years and has been prequalified by WHO.
Kenya’s Pharmacy and Poisons Board is currently reviewing applications from the Sinovac vaccine, and Dr. Akhwale believes Pfizer is also preparing its papers.
Kenya received the first batch of 1.02 million doses of AstraZeneca in February from India through the Covax initiative. It was expected to receive the second consignment of 2.5 million doses by the end of April, but the ban imposed by the Asian country has forced the East African nation to look for alternatives.
India announced last week that the earliest they can resume exports is June which will be late for administering the second dose in the country.
However, Kenya is still committed to engaging Gavi, the head of the Covax initiative alongside the World Health Organization and Unicef, to unlock the stalemate with India, said Dr. Akhwale.
“We had planned to give the second dose after eight weeks because Covax had assured us we’d get the second doses in April. But they later communicated there would be a delay for one month. We are sure we will get them in May and I will even discuss with them today,” he revealed.