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State unaware of Covid-19 vaccine trial plans

Saturday April 25 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Xie Wen from Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University conducts detections at the clinical laboratory of the Leishenshan (Thunder God Mountain) Hospital in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, March 4, 2020. PHOTO | COURTESY 

NASIBO KABALE
By NASIBO KABALE
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WANJOHI GITHAE
By WANJOHI GITHAE
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The government is not aware of plans for coronavirus vaccine trials in Kenya, even as the number of cases rose to 336 Friday, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman said.

Dr Aman told journalists during the daily Covid-19 briefings that authorities are not aware of plans by Oxford University to carry out human vaccine trials in the country.

He added that proper procedures and ethical review must be approved before such trials begin. “We have a robust structure for regulating and reviewing this. If the request comes, we will do proper scrutiny,” he said.

The first human trial of a coronavirus vaccine in Europe began at the university on Thursday.

Two of the 800 volunteers were given the vaccine. Oxford University said it may start trials in countries like Kenya.

Half of the volunteers will receive the coronavirus vaccine while the remaining will get a meningitis control vaccine.

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At the same time, Dr Aman said 16 more people tested positive for Covid-19 after being picked up by the Ministry of Health surveillance team, raising the country’s total cases to 336.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said one coronavirus test costs the government Sh2,500.

The cost is likely to drop once the Kenya Medical Research Institute and other local organisations begin making testing kits.

The minister added that mass testing will be directed to a particular cluster of people.

He gave the example of the Kenya Ports Authority, where more than 12 people have tested positive for Covid-19.

He spoke during the Inooro FM breakfast show on Friday.