The second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which thousands of Kenyans are awaiting after they got the first, will not arrive this month as earlier expected.

Ministry of Health officials on Thursday confirmed they were yet to receive assurance in writing from the Covax facility, a development that is likely to fuel anxiety among those who had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

This anxiety is likely to be heightened by the Health ministry’s prediction that the country could record another infections peak in the next two months.

The country is now trying other avenues to obtain a second batch of the vaccine, even as the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms a 12-week period is enough for optimal immune response against the virus.

Safety concerns

The government is also reportedly exploring other vaccine options, including acquiring 30 million doses of Johnson and Johnson’s and Pfizer vaccines.

Dr Willis Akhwale, the chairperson of the Covid-19 vaccine task force, said they had not received anything in writing from the Covax facility, which had in April written to inform Kenya that there would likely be a delay in the consignment.

“I am not sure whether we shall get the second consignment in May as we had earlier predicted because of the global challenge, though we are hopeful they will arrive before the 12-week period elapses,” he said.

A recent study by the University of Oxford revealed that clinics could swap Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines if supplies are interrupted with no adverse effects or safety concerns.

The study also revealed that adults were more likely to report mild and moderate side-effects after mixing doses of the two vaccines.

First dose of vaccine

Chills, headaches and muscle pain were reported more frequently when different vaccine doses were combined, the researchers said. The study further indicated that one out of 10 volunteers, after being given two AstraZeneca jabs, reported fever, but if they received an AstraZeneca jab and a Pfizer one, in any order, the proportion rose to about 34 per cent.

Several countries have reported plans to mix vaccines in the near future amid uncertainty over shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The preliminaries of the study were published yesterday in the Lancet medical journal and final results are expected to be published in June.

Meanwhile, Dr Ahmed Kalebi has advised the Health ministry and WHO to conduct a serological test at the point of administering the first dose of the vaccine to establish whether would-be recipients had previously been infected. 

“There is no point of giving people who have had prior Covid-19 two doses of the vaccine when only one dose can offer adequate immunity,” Dr Kalebi said.

By Nation Africa