Kenya secures Sh21 billion for Covid vaccines

Covid vaccination

Kenya has lined up Sh21.3 billion to fund the ambitious Covid-19 vaccination programme that aims to cover the entire adult population by the end of next year.

The total amount is made up of Sh14 billion World Bank loan and Sh7.3 billion that parliamentarians approved on Tuesday’s supplementary budget.

The financing will help Kenya buy vaccines through an African Union facility and that of COVAX—the global scheme for sharing jabs.

The funding war chest has prompted the government to announce a revised vaccination plan that now targets 26 million adult Kenyans by end of June next year.

The country had set a goal of vaccinating 10 million adults by June 2022, but President Uhuru Kenyatta said the programme will be accelerated.

The President yesterday said the revised vaccine plan was betting on increased use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is administered using a single shot, as opposed to AstraZeneca that requires two jabs.

Kenya targets inoculating at least 10 million adults by Christmas this year.

This means an average of 50,000 vaccinations daily in the next six months given that just 1.005 million have so far received the first dose.

Mr Kenyatta said Kenya will have built a capacity to vaccinate 150,000 people every day ahead of August.

“Using these vaccines and others in the pipelines, this is how we will vaccinate over 10 million Kenyans by Christmas 2021 and 26 million by end of 2022,” said the President.

The first phase of vaccination has run into challenges due to delays in procuring more doses from India, which halted shipments to deal with a surge in domestic infections.

Kenya kicked off the administration of second doses on May 28 and has so far managed 328,848.

The Covid-19 vaccine shots, procured at $7.70 (Sh845.80) per shot negotiated under the Covax facility, are offered for free.

Mr Kenyatta on Tuesday said that Kenya had managed to get 13 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses at a 23 percent discount.

Kenya will target about four million vaccine doses on young adults by June next year if the inoculation for under-age populations is registered by early next year.

Achieving the ambitious plan of vaccinating 30 million out of 49.7 million Kenyans will set up the country on a strong path to herd immunity.

Kenya had initially estimated that it would require about Sh34 billion for the vaccination programme that was targeting 30 percent of the population.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a recent review warned that a slow pace of inoculation risked dragging Kenya’s economic recovery.

Coronavirus disruptions have seen Kenya post the worst economic growth performance since 1992.

The economy suffered its first recession in nearly two decades.

Kenya has heavily relied on debt to fund the vaccination programme in an environment of muted growth in tax revenues and increased need for social programmes.

The World Bank in April last year, for instance, approved Sh5.36 billion ($50 million) to help Kenya conduct Covid-19 tests, set up isolation centres and purchase personal protective gear.

In March, Kenya returned to the global lender seeking a Sh10 billion loan to help purchase Covid-19 vaccines following a financing shortfall.

Kenya’s Covid-19 positivity rate has ranged between 7.6 percent and 10.6 percent in the last four days, with Nairobi and the 13 counties classified as a hotspot zone remaining under the focus of health officials.