Just a day after Moderna announced its plan to supply the African Union with about 110 million vaccines, the United States on Wednesday indicated Kenya is set to get nearly one million Pfizer doses in fresh shipment as the Biden Administration distributes 4.8 million doses to four countries on the continent.
Speaking to the Voice of America, White House officials said the 55-member AU determined the allocations; Chad, one of the world’s poorest nations will get 115,830 doses. Egypt will receive 3,634,020 doses, Gabon is to get 101,790 doses while Kenya will receive 990,990 doses and the doses are expected by Friday or Saturday, this week.
The move follows an announcement earlier in the week that the US would allow the AU to purchase an allotment of 33 million doses of the two-shot Moderna vaccine that were originally intended for the US.
“As the president has said, the virus knows no borders, and it is going to require every company and every country to step up and take bold, urgent action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Natalie Quillian, White House deputy COVID-19 response coordinator.
“We are grateful to have helped negotiate this encouraging step forward between Moderna and the AU that will significantly expand access to vaccines on the continent in the near term. This is an important action, as we continue to expand manufacturing capacity now and expand access to mRNA vaccines with some of the hardest-hit parts of the world.”
In September, Washington donated over two million Pfizer doses to Kenya as the Biden administration moved to help accelerate vaccination programmes in countries in the developing world.
The US officials have, however, been criticized for urging booster shots for vulnerable Americans while vaccination rates are low in the developing world, claims that have been refuted by the White House, justifying that the US can help vaccinate the world while also protecting her citizens.
“At our current pace, it could take over a decade until low-income countries reach the 70 per cent vaccination target,” said Tom Hart, acting CEO at the anti-poverty ONE Campaign.
“We can’t end this pandemic anywhere if the vaccine isn’t everywhere. The world needs an escape plan, not just life preservers thrown out in the dark.”
According to projections by an Oxford University COVID-19 database, Our World in Data, only one nation in sub-Saharan Africa, Lesotho, is on track to meet the target of inoculating 40 per cent of their population with at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of this year.
As of October 27, Kenya has received over eight million vaccine doses and immunized just over five million people.
According to the Health Ministry data, over 3.5 million people have received their first dose while over 1.5 million people have received the second dose. The uptake of the second dose among those who received their first dose is 40 per cent and the proportion of adults fully vaccinated is 5.5 per cent.