Kenyans are incensed by COVID-19 vaccine trial comments on the BBC suggesting that British scientists could start their trials in Kenya if tests in UK don’t get the expected results.
Fergus Walsh, the BBC medical correspondent, whiles speaking on the World Service about his assessment on how successful trial in the UK could be, made the comments that have attracted the backlash.
His words: “We could be careful not to over promise because we are desperate for this vaccine to work but the team in Oxford have a really strong record going back 30 years. They have developed successful prototype vaccines against another type of coronavirus, MERS.
“… which has done well in clinical trials, they’ve also developed vaccines against plague, malaria (now) if they don’t get early quick results from the UK they are considering a trial in Kenya where the epidemic of the coronavirus will be on the rise.
“As far as i known, this vaccine is known to produce a strong anti-body response but that doesn’t necessarily equate to protection. And we are going to need many vaccines with dozens in development.
“Then we will need billions of doses and expect a huge debate over which countries and which groups of people get the vaccine first.”
The Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, who are conducting the ongoing trial in the UK have not commented on Welsh’s statement. The video is being widely shared on Kenya’s Twitter space.
We are his guinea pigs. Idiot!! pic.twitter.com/vtkZkBV39c
— Robert Alai (@RobertAlai) April 24, 2020
The latest development evokes a similar outrage that accompanied a suggestion by two French scientists that a vaccine trial should start from Africa given the lack of facilities and health support system.
The WHO chief in responding to the topic slammed the scientists for what he said were racist remarks that smugged of a hangover from colonialism. Most Africans tasked their governments to not accept any such trials.
320 cases, recoveries climbing steadily
The case count has reached 320 as of April 23 after 17 new cases were recorded over the last 24-hours. All 17 were Kenyan citizens. A dozen from Mombasa and the remaining from Nairobi.
Meanwhile recoveries received a boost as six new discharges brought the tally to 89. Fatalities remain at 14 with active cases at 217. Kenya’s overall test count stands at 15,792 according to Health CAS Mercy Mwangangi.
Nairobi county maintained its unassailable lead with 211 cases whiles Mombasa climbed to 79. Kilifi, Mandera and Kwale complete the list of partially locked down counties with 9, 8 and 1 case respectively.
Kajiado, Kitui, Nakuru, Siaya, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu and Homabay complete the list of infected counties.
Meanwhile the weatherman is cautioning that rains will intensify in parts of the country. The rains and attendant flooding are an added headache to humanitarian efforts bedeviling the country. A locust invasion is the other.
A weather alert said the rains and attendant flood risk was going to impact the wider East, Horn of Africa region: Exceptionally high rainfall from 21-26 April is expected in Djibouti, southeastern Ethiopia, Kenya, southern Somalia, northwestern Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
All risk mitigation measures need to be activated, the alert noted.
— TheStarKenya (@TheStarKenya) April 23, 2020