President Uhuru Kenyatta has okayed the Covid-19 vaccine trials in the country despite the falling number of new infections being recorded.
According to the Kenya Pharmacy Board, Oxford University-developed vaccine is the one which is going to be put under trial in the country.
The trials to be carried out by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) will recruit 400 health workers in Kilifi and Mombasa counties.
The next step, though generally ceremonial, will be the final approval by the National Commission for Science, Technology, and Innovation (Nacosti).
This makes Kenya the second country in the sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa to conduct clinical trials for a Covid 19 vaccine. South Africa started trials for the same Oxford University vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, in June.
Last Tuesday global trials of the vaccine were halted because of a serious and unexpected adverse reaction in a participant in the UK.
AstraZeneca, the vaccine co-developers, said the trials had been suspended worldwide to allow the review of safety data by an independent committee.
Locally though, the trials will determine the vaccine’s safety, ability to generate protection and its efficacy against the new virus in adult Kenyans.
Health workers have been prioritised due to their high risk of occupational exposure to Covid-19, hence their urgent need for protection. The participants who will get one dose of the vaccine will be followed for 12 months.
Justifying the testing of the vaccine in Kenya, the protocol says this is important because vaccine performance from studies in other populations may work differently in Africa.
On Monday, the Cabinet Administrative Secretary for Health Rashid Aman said seven applications for Covid-19 drug studies had so far been received by the poisons board. “Four of them have been approved,” he said during the daily Covid-19 situation update.
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Those approved most recently include a study for the experimental use of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of Covid-19 in healthy adults.
This comes as the country continue to record low numbers of new infections and high recovery rates.