Kenya has approved the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for use in the country as part of efforts to step up the fight against surging COVID-19 cases. It is expected the East African nation will receive two million Sinopharm doses, with the first batch of 200,000 shots donated by China expected in September.
Willis Akhwale, head of the COVID-19 vaccine taskforce at the ministry of health, said the goal is to flood the country with a variety of WHO-approved vaccines as they target an inoculation goal of 10 million people by December. Kenya has administered at least 2.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far.
"Kenya has approved Sinopharm. We are confident in its effectiveness since it has been certified by WHO," Akhwale said.
This came after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday extended the ongoing nationwide curfew for a further 60 days, citing escalating COVID-19 infections.
He also suspended all physical public gatherings and meetings, including political rallies, and urged Kenyans to strictly follow COVID-19 containment protocols and get vaccinated following a spike in infections and deaths.
Kenyatta said the interventions initiated to mitigate local community transmission of the virus have been effective in managing its impact on Kenyans, the healthcare system and the economy.
"These interventions have been escalated and de-escalated based on feedback on infection rates, analysis of health system capacities and economic impact reports. The recently evaluated reports have pointed to an exponential rise in infection rates across several counties, occasioned by unrestrained gatherings and congregations, in breach of guidelines as issued by the ministry of health," Kenyatta said.
According to data from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kenya had recorded over 225,000 cases by Friday, with more than 4,400 deaths and almost 210,000 recoveries.