Doctors deny Raila infertility jab claim


Opposition leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NMG

Medical experts on Monday disowned opposition leader Raila Odinga’s claim that the tetanus vaccine that was administered to Kenyan women in 2014 could cause permanent infertility.

Mr Odinga had in a statement issued in Nairobi said that the Catholic Church was right in its claim that the vaccination drive was a mass sterilization programme, reigniting a three-year row between the church and the Health ministry.

He said the political coalition he heads, the National Super Alliance (Nasa), had accessed analysis from four institutions, agriQ Quest Ltd, the Nairobi Hospital Laboratories, the University of Nairobi and Lancet Kenya, indicating that the Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine had high contents of beta human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (BhCG), which causes pregnancy loss.

“The government, for some mysterious reason, was hell bent on misleading the country while intentionally sterilising Kenyan girls and women,” Mr Odinga said.

The Catholic Church sparked the controversy in 2014 when it insisted that at least 500,000 women may have been rendered infertile as a result.

The church had the vaccines tested at Lancet, the University of Nairobi and the Nairobi Hospital, but the Health ministry disputed the results and referred the matter to the parliamentary committee on health, which appointed agriQ Quest Ltd on December 10, 2014 to test the samples afresh.

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Lancet Kenya chief executive Dr Ahmed Kalebi said the medical laboratory chain had earlier explained that the analysis was not done properly and its findings could therefore not be used to make a conclusive report on the matter.

“I haven’t heard or seen the presser from Mr Odinga, but I think he is misquoting us. We did not confirm anything and we even clarified the issue in 2014 with facts and opinion on the matter,” said Dr Kalebi.

The then Head of Pathology at Nairobi Hospital, Dr Andrew Gachii, also dismissed Mr Odinga’s claims terming them “mere allegations”.

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Dr Gachii said the first vaccine samples taken to Nairobi Hospital for analysis were contaminated and the results could not be relied on because even the methodology used was wrong.

“Assessing vaccines is not like a blood test. The method used for the first sample and the equipment used were wrong and the results cannot be relied on,” he said.

Raila Odinga Secretariat communications director Dennis Onyango said that the experts’ denial of the case made no difference as “it was one firm that was endorsed to do the final report. We only mentioned the other three labs as part of the chronology of events”.