Kenya bans private entities from importing COVID-19 vaccines

Russia's "Sputnik V" vaccine. /Xinhua
Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine. /Xinhua

The Kenyan government has banned the importation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by private businesses.

The ban was announced on Friday by health minister Mutahi Kagwe, after days of controversy following the importation of the Russia-manufactured Sputnik V vaccine by a private entity.

“The government is effective today closing the window of private sector importation, distribution and administration of vaccines until such a time when it is confident that there is greater transparency and accountability in the entire process,” said Kagwe.

Earlier this week, the Chief Administrative Secretary in the health ministry, Mercy Mwangangi, announced that Sputnik V vaccine had been approved for emergency use in the country.

Following that announcement, Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto became one of the first persons in the East African country to receive the jab.

Reports indicate that people who wish to get shots of the Russian-manufactured vaccine will have to part with 7,700 shillings ($70.30) for a single shot.

The cost is seen to be well out of reach for millions of Kenyans who live in poverty.

The Kenyan government has itself acquired more than 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is already being administered to people around the country for free.