Africa Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC) has hailed the move by President Uhuru Kenyatta to introduce containment measures to help curb the fast-spreading COVID-19 in the country.
Speaking on the weekly update on Covid-19 on the continent, Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong expressed hope that the restrictions of movement in five counties of; Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nakuru will help to flatten the curve soon enough as more transmissions of the virus is curtailed.
“Flattening the curve will be dependent on the public adherence to the containment measures as well as following the other public health measures including washing hands frequently, wearing facemasks, avoiding crowds, and keeping physical distance,” said Dr. Nkengasong.
Saying that the pandemic waves in Kenya have been unique and unpredictable as the second wave had a higher peak than the first wave while the third wave has dwarfed both the first and the second wave, the Africa CDC Director noted that the scenario is normal with pandemics and attributed it to pandemic fatigue that has seen the public lower their guard and hence ended up with more community transmission of the virus.
The Africa CDC Director said even if the sequencing of the virus continues, the mutations will continue “until the transmission of the virus is stopped.”
Nkengasong said that the delay by India to provide the 40 million dosses Astra-Zeneca vaccine under the COVAX will undermine efforts aimed at 60% of the population but noted that working with Johnson & Johnson the continent will be able to vaccinate over 400 million people if the vaccines are delivered as agreed.
At the same time, the University of Nairobi, College of Health Sciences is researching on the possibility of a local Covid-19 variant that could be causing fast deaths in Covid-19 patients.
“We are also interested in looking for our own variants and all the patients who come and to hospital and die quickly, we are picking samples to find out if there are any variants of concern,” said Prof. Omu Anzala the Director of the Kenya Aids Vaccine Institute (KAVI) who spoke during a webinar on the ‘The Covid-19 Vaccination Rollout’, that was organised by the College of Health Sciences of the University of Nairobi.
Prof. Anzala noted that the researchers are constrained by lack of funding to enable them effectively research on coronavirus that has caused disruptions in the country as well as globally.
He said that a major worry among the researchers is that some variants may escape the vaccine or become more infectious.
Prof. Anzala disclosed that both the South African and UK variants do not respond to Astra-Zeneca vaccine which has been rolled out in the country adding that the Brazilian variant has not been detected in the country.
“We are not sequencing enough, some of the sequences we have done, we have not linked them to the disease outcome, and so as it is now our worry is looking for the Brazilian variant, the South African Variant and the UK variant,’ said Prof. Anzala.
A Lecturer on Health Policy and Health Systems at the School of Public Health, Dr Richard Ayah said that a major constraint facing the vaccine rollout is that Public health is funded by donors adding that there was a need for the government to boost capacity by beginning to finance public health in order to wean it from dependence on donor funding.