Dinlas Pharma EPZ Limited, a private firm that imported Russian-manufactured Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, is seeking clearance from government to re-export the drug following its ban.
This is according to the revelations by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) that is claiming that the private firm has since written to them looking for authorization to re-export consignments of an excess of 75,000 vaccines
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health on Thursday, April 8, PPB head of Good Distribution Practices and Ports of Entry, Dr. Dominic Kariuki, said that the board received a notice to re-export Sputnik V vaccine previously approved for emergency use in the country.
“The company is now in the process of officially applying for re-export. The letter of intent has already been given to PPB,” Dr. Kariuki told the Senate Committee chaired by Trans-Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito.
He added: “They have to re-apply because there is normally a procedure of importation and exportation of medicine, that is where the private firm is."
Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Rashid Aman, in his submissions to the nine-member committee, however, said those who had received the first dose of the Sputnik V and were due for the second dose after three weeks would complete the vaccination.
“This criterion will only apply to the 527 vaccination cases which had been reported in the Chanjo-Ke system at the time of ban,” Dr Aman told Senators.
Defending the ban on the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, the CAS said the decision was to ensure coherence in public health policy, a priority for the government amidst the pandemic.
Dr. Aman said mixing x vaccines is not recommended by the World Health Organization and other health experts.
Meanwhile, the Health official ruled out compensation for the firm that Russia's Sputnik V vaccine.
The CAS, who represented Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, said despite the private firms being licensed and receiving approvals to import and distribute the vaccine, they did not comply with the emergency use authorization.
“This means that they did not advertise the use of the vaccine, which is considered unethical which should not have been done,” the CAS said.
“They did not disclose where the vaccines were being delivered and who was delivering these vaccines. There were protocols put in place by the taskforce on how they were to be deployed and who was to administer them,” the CAS added.
On April 2, the government banned the importation, distribution and administration of vaccines by the private sector, citing transparency issues.
Consequently, Health CS Kagwe announced that the state had outlawed any form of licensing to allow private sector to vaccinate people in the country.
The existing licenses of operation were also revoked.
“There will be no licensing of private players in the importation of vaccines and any such license given will be and is hereby terminated. The only agent for vaccination in Kenya will remain the government of the republic of Kenya until further notice,” CS Kagwe said.
Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina, who is a member of the committee sympathized with the private entities because they spent huge sums of money to import the vaccines after receiving authorization from the PPB only to be stopped from distribution and administration by the same government.
“Why should private entities bear the brunt of the disconnect that exists between the Ministry of Health and PPB?” he questioned.
But Dr. Aman reiterated that the private sector will not be allowed to participate in the future importation and distribution of covid-19 vaccines.
He said the government's plan is to procure vaccines through the global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility through which the country is getting the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Africa CDC.
“If and when Johnson and Johnson vaccine becomes available under any of these mechanisms, the government will proceed and procure or in the case of COVAX receive it as a donation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Health ministry has constituted a team with representation PPB to engage the private sector to develop a framework that will guide private sector involvement in the importation, distribution and administration of approved Covid-19 vaccines.
“The aim is to ensure we come up with a transparent and accountable system that will ensure public health safety at all times,” the CAS explained
“The plan is to have this framework in place by end of June this year, so that the private sector joins the roll-out plan this year, when we fully actualize phase two of the deployment,” he added.