NAIROBI – Kenya has ordered an immediate suspension to the private importation of coronavirus vaccines, citing fears that otherwise counterfeit inoculations may get into the East African country.
“To ensure the transparency and accountability in the vaccination process, and to protect the integrity of the country, the government is effective today closing the window of private sector importation, distribution and administration of vaccines, until such a time there is greater transparency and accountability in the entire process,” Kenya's National Emergency Response Committee on coronavirus said in a statement Friday evening.
Private health facilities have been charging about $80 apiece for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, while Kenyan institutions are giving out free AstraZeneca vaccines the government received from the global COVAX initiative.
In recent weeks, government has been working to improve the reluctant uptake by frontline workers of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. So far around 160,000 people have been vaccinated in more than a month.
After announcing new restrictions on movement due to a surge of coronavirus infections and deaths, President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 26 led his cabinet in getting vaccinated publicly.
Kenya's government says the country's positivity rate jumped from 2.6% at the end of January to 19.1% on April 2.
Separately, the British government says beginning on April 9 it will ban most travelers from Kenya, since a significant amount of them are testing positive for variant first found in South Africa. Only U.K. citizens and those holding residency permits will be allowed to enter Britain from Kenya, it said.
The British High Commission stressed that these are temporary measures.