Kenya Secures World Bank Loan for COVID-19 Vaccines as it Starts to Administer Second Doses Amid Case Surge

Kenya has secured $130 million in funding from the World Bank to buy COVID-19 vaccines and help boost the country’s vaccination drive, the Bank announced on Tuesday.

The funding comes as the Kenyan government starts to administer the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccines to citizens, amid an upsurge of infections across 13 counties in the western region of the country.

As of Monday, the East African country had recorded 182, 883 COVID-19 infections and 3, 612 deaths.

World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Keith Hansen, said the “upfront financing for the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines will enable the government to expand access to more Kenyans free of cost”.

It will enable the country to procure more vaccines via the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative and COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing facility.

“This additional financing comes at a critical time when the Government of Kenya is making concerted efforts to contain the rising cases of COVID-19 infections and accelerate the deployment of vaccines to a wider population,” said Hansen. 

Part of the funds will go to boosting Kenya’s cold chain storage capacity, including establishing 25 county vaccine stores, strengthening the capacity of 36 sub-county stores, and equipping 1,177 health facilities with vaccine storage equipment. It will also be used for vaccine safety surveillance, training for health workers, and advocacy and communications activities to encourage COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

“With the increased support for a rapid COVID-19 response, the World Bank is offering the government a flexible approach to select a portfolio of vaccines that best suits local capacities, timings of delivery, and vaccine approvals,” said Jane Chuma, World Bank Senior Health Economist.

In April last year, Kenya received another World Bank loan for Covid-19 tests, isolation and quarantine centres and the purchase of personal protective gear for health workers. 

Vaccination Drive Intensifies As 13 Counties Declared COVID-19 Hotspots

So far, 1,293,004 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered with vaccination efforts being boosted by a donation of 360,000 doses from the Danish government early last week, according to the Ministry of Health.

A further consignment of 180,000 doses is expected in the coming weeks from COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing facility,  as well as a donation from the US.

Susan Mochache, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, acknowledged that the vaccine donation from Denmark came at a critical time when the country was only left with 5000 doses in total. 

Administration of the second dose comes in the wake of an upsurge of infections across 13 counties in the western region of the country. 

The counties of Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa-Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans Nzoia, and Vihiga have been declared hotspots by the Cabinet Secretary of Health, resulting in a dusk-to-dawn curfew from 7pm to 4am.

According to the Ministry of Health, the 13 counties account for 60% of the total caseload in the country and a positivity rate of 21%, which is way above the 9% national average over the last two weeks.

Even though movement in and out of these counties was not banned, Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe said it is “strongly discouraged.”

Funeral gatherings have been restricted to less than 50 people and burials are now supposed to take place within 72 hours following a death. Wedding gatherings are now restricted to 30 attendees. Employees have been urged to work from home and places of worship will remain closed for the next 30 days. These measures are meant to curb the spread of the virus in these counties and beyond.

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