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Govt rejects UK scientists’ bid to test Covid-19 vaccine in Kenya

Kenya says it has not granted permission to Oxford University scientists in the United Kingdom to conduct human trials of a coronavirus vaccine on its citizens.

BBC reported that a British scientist had picked the country to start its tests of Covid-19 trials in Kenya if tests in UK don’t get the expected results.

On Thursday, two volunteers in UK were injected, the first of more than 800 people recruited for the study.

Half will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, and half a control vaccine, which protects against meningitis but not coronavirus.

On Friday while briefing the nation, Health CAS Rahid Aman said Kenya was not aware of any trials that were to be conducted in the country on its citizens.

“I’ve read this but as government we are not aware. There are proper procedures of ethical review and approval of clinical trials. As a government we are not aware at all about the interest of this team to come and work with the government of Kenya in testing this vaccine,” said Dr Aman.

According to the CAS, the country has a robust structure for regulating and reviewing and if such a request comes, they will do proper scrutiny before making a decision.

On Friday, Fergus Walsh, the BBC medical correspondent, said that in clinical trials, they’ve also developed vaccines against plague, malaria and that 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.

He said the vaccine is known to produce a strong antibody response but that doesn’t necessarily equate to protection.

And we are going to need many vaccines with dozens in development.

“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,” he said.

The Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, which is conducting the ongoing trial in the UK has not commented on Welsh’s statement.

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 demanded their governments to not accept any such trials.

The vaccine was developed in under three months by a team at Oxford University. Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, led the pre-clinical research.

The vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees that has been modified so it cannot grow in humans.