Kenya approves first Covid-19 vaccine trials
London, Sep. 10, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The Kenyan government has approved the first Covid-19 vaccine trials to be conducted in the country.
The approval posted by Pharmacy and Poisons Board on Tuesday allows for the Oxford University-developed vaccine to be tested in Kenya.
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.
The global trials of the vaccine were halted on Tuesday 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.
“The study will only enroll 400 healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, clinical officers, pharmacists, mortuary attendants, and allied healthcare professionals” says the protocol.
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.
Those approved most recently include a study for the experimental use of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine for the prevention of Covid-19 in healthy adults.
The study called COPCOV will be conducted by Kemri at four sites in Kilifi, Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu, targeting 1,600 health workers. Globally, the study targets 40,000 participants.