NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4 – The latest analysis of COVID-19 vaccine scale-up in Kenya by the Wellcome Trust Research Programme found that the country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign can achieve greater value for money if it focuses on the vulnerable groups, rather than a strategy that pursues scaling up vaccines to the whole population.
COVID-19 has had a number of negative impacts on the health system in Kenya over the past two years affecting the gains made in the fight against AIDS, TB and Malaria.
According to the Director of KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Edwine Barasa, these forecasts estimate what would happen if vaccine scale-up reached 30%, 50% or 70% of the Kenyan population, under both slow (18 months) and rapid (6 months) scenarios in line with a broad range of COVID vaccine scale-up scenarios.
“Vaccines work; and ensuring older adults and other at-risk groups receive them quickly is the best way to achieve greater health outcomes and is better value for money. We hope this data helps policymakers across the continent determine how to structure impactful, cost-effective, long-term COVID-19 responses,” said Barasa.
The research found that scaling up to 30% vaccine coverage is cost-effective; while the 50% and 70% scenarios were not, given the lower risk of severe disease and death and high natural immunity due to previous exposure.
Public Health Specialist and Vice-Chancellor, Amref International University, Joachim Osur expressed the importance to integrate COVID-19 vaccination fully into the regular health system, while also regaining ground against other infectious diseases, such as HIV, TB and malaria.
“It is time to integrate COVID fully into our regular health system, so we can right-size our COVID-19 vaccine program while also regaining ground against other infectious diseases, such as HIV, TB and malaria,” Osur explained.
Kenya’s campaign began in March 2021, one year after the first recorded case and more than 17 million doses have been administered since then – covering 15% of the total population.
Currently, the country aims to vaccinate 100% of all adults by the end of 2022.
In Africa, only 15% of the population has received two vaccine doses and vaccination campaigns have slowed across the continent due to low demand for doses as well as gaps in the delivery systems needed to roll them out.