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Kagwe: My remarks on Covid-19 vaccine were taken out of context

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has come out to defend his comments on the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, after a video clip captured him expressing reservations on its efficacy, claiming it had been taken out of context.

In a statement issued hours after the NTV video clip went viral amid heavy backlash triggered by his remarks, the CS said his remarks were in line with the doubts that have been publicly cast by global experts on the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines.

“My attention has been drawn to a short video clip from an internal broad discussion about vaccines in which I appear to be skeptical about the efficacy of vaccines and how they work. This clip has been taken out of context as it was specifically directed at reports of Pfizer developing a vaccine that is reported to be 95% effective; this response is driven by the reaction of top medics and if well guided, perhaps we all should share in it,” said CS Kagwe.

Kagwe further said that Kenya will not spend money on a yet to be scientifically proven vaccine and it should instead wait for globally and scientifically acceptable vaccines.

He said the Ministry of Health is still monitoring several other vaccine candidates which are still under advanced clinical trial stages.

“For the avoidance of doubt, my ministry considers vaccination and or immunisation to be our core part of efforts for preventing diseases for which vaccines are available,” Kagwe noted.

In the viral clip, the CS was captured while delivering a status report to the Senate on the fight against Covid-19 in the country, saying he has “many doubts” about how the Pfizer-developed vaccine will combat the virus.

“Yesterday Pfizer said there is a vaccine but personally, to tell you the truth, I got my many doubts about it. They were talking about a disease that stops people from getting the virus. I would like to know how they knew in the first place that I was going to get the virus. When I have the virus and it goes down I can understand the major, but when you tell me that I stopped you from getting the virus how do you know I was going to get the virus in the first place. I have got my reservations,” said Kagwe.

On Monday, Pfizer said its experimental vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 based on initial data from a large study.

Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to make a vaccine that offers promising results from large-scale clinical trials.

The companies said they had so far found no serious health concerns caused by the vaccine and aim to seek US emergency use authorisation later this month.