Kenya Plans to Begin Local Vaccine Production by April 2022
The government of Kenya has announced that it will begin manufacturing the COVID 19 vaccine locally. Kenya is planning to begin these operations in April 2022. The move is designed to address supply chain challenges that have made vaccine access in the country difficult.
The news was announced by Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta. It is expected to bring together the Ministry of Health and Kenya Biovax Limited, a local pharmaceutical firm.
Kenya follows other African countries in seeking vaccine independence. As of now, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and other nations are already in talks with investors about building local vaccine production capacity.
Kenya’s Covid Vaccine Uptake
Kenya has done relatively well in vaccine uptake compared to a host of other African nations. Despite the shortages of vaccines, at the time of writing this article, over 4 million people in the country had received at least a single jab.
The government says that this success has largely been driven by free vaccinations and growing awareness among the populace. But despite this, the numbers still lag way behind compared to western nations.
Kenya is hoping that increasing the local supply of COVID vaccines will help accelerate uptake. This the government believes will help ease pandemic concerns and reduce pressure on the local health care system.
Effects of COVID 19 in Kenya
Although Kenya has managed to navigate the effects of the pandemic, the country was hit hard. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that the economy went through a recession over the last few months.
The tourist industry, which is a huge part of the economy, was also hit hard. The government also reported a loss of revenue after waving taxes to cushion citizens against the effects of COVID.
There is Conesus though that a widespread vaccination drive could help reduce the economic risks associated with the pandemic. The Kenya government is sparing no effort to make this happen. Once local vaccine production starts, it will be easier and cheaper for the Ministry of Health to vaccinate as many people as possible.
How Feasible is a Local Vaccine?
There is no doubt the Kenya government does not currently have the capacity to produce a COVID vaccine. But the plan is to take advantage of local vaccine demand to invite foreign investors in. Yes, the Kenyan government says that it plans to work with a local firm. But there is likely going to be some involvement for foreign firms.
It is also clear that the government will need to build the infrastructure needed to produce these vaccines at scale. After all, if indeed the state wishes to rapidly roll out a massive vaccine campaign, it will need to produce the product in large numbers.
All these things will take time. The April deadline is certainly doable but looking at the amount of work needed, it could as well take longer. But it is clear that this is a good start. Kenya is also expected to partner with other East African countries in this endeavor.