After delays, Kenya seeks alternatives to AZ COVID vaccine

Kenya’s health ministry said it is in talks with vaccine makers such as Johnson and Johnson (JNJ.N) to find alternatives to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot, which has been delayed in shipping from India. 

Kenya obtained a batch of AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX vaccine sharing platform, which provides doses to low-income countries and is reliant on AstraZeneca (AZN.L) drug exports from India’s Serum Institute. 

“AstraZeneca Vaccine is unlikely to remain the vaccine of choice in Africa because of the delays in shipments currently being experienced from India,” Kenya’s health ministry said on Twitter, attributing the comments to health minister Mutahi Kagwe.

Serum said on Tuesday that it will keep ramping up production of AstraZeneca’s vaccine and resume exports by the end of the year.

Because of the situation in India, Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Africa director, said that COVID-19 vaccine shipments to African countries slowed to a trickle in May. 

“The continent was expecting 66 million doses through COVAX from February to May, but instead has so far received only 18.2 million,” she said.

According to Moeti, only about 2% of Africans have received a dose, compared to up to 80% in some of the foreign countries. 

“As people living in richer countries can hit the reset button this summer and their lives will return to a semblance of normal, in Africa our lives will continue to be on hold,” she said.

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