NAIROBI , 17 March, 2021 / 6:26 PM (ACI Africa).- Members of the Kenya Catholic Doctors’ Association (KCDA) have maintained their strong opposition to the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in the East African nation, saying their caution against the coronavirus vaccine means well for the people in the country and in other African countries seeking to administer the vaccine.
In a widely circulated video addressing some of the concerns that have been raised against the AstraZeneca vaccine, which arrived in Kenya March 3, the National Chairman of KCDA Dr. Stephen Kimotho Karanja maintains that the vaccine is harmful.
“I do not know how I can say this clearer on behalf of KCDA members to the people of Africa and especially to the people of Kenya. This vaccine is not a vaccine,” says Dr. Karanja.
He adds, in reference to the highly contested AstraZeneca vaccine, “This is a genetically modified product that is being injected in people. It is going to be injected in many countries in Africa. Africa, you must rise up.”
In an interview with ACI Africa a day after the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Karanja said that the vaccine was “unnecessary, absolutely useless and can be extremely dangerous.”
“The COVID-19 vaccine is unnecessary because in the history of medicine, vaccines have never been and can never be part of controlling a medical epidemic,” the KCDA Chairman told ACI Africa March 4 and added, “A vaccine can never be produced in one year.”
The Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist said that Catholic Doctors in the country are opposed to the vaccine, which they described as dangerous because “it is a genetically modified product which has not been tested.”
Since Kenya received its first batch of AstraZeneca, relevant authorities in the country embarked on the vaccination process, starting with health practitioners.
The country kicked off mass vaccination of teachers on March 15 with an aim of vaccinating over 200,000 tutors in schools with special attention on those who fall between the age bracket of 58 years and above as well as those with underlying medical conditions.
In the March 4 interview with ACI Africa, Dr. Karanja claimed that the AstraZeneca vaccine is a GMO, and posed, “This country has refused to allow GMO maize, how would they allow a GMO to be injected into humans?”
For Dr. Karanja, a specialist in Minimal Access Surgery, lack of credible information about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine should be a reason for Kenyans to reject it since, he emphasized, “lack of knowledge is lack of safety; knowledge is safety.”
More than 10 countries, mostly in Europe, have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine over fears the jab may be causing blood clots in recipients.
Top countries on the list include Sweden, Latvia, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, and The Netherlands.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has reportedly become the first country in Africa to put on hold its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Deliveries of vaccine supplies under the Covax program including AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines started in February, and most countries in Africa have signed up.
The program, backed by WHO and other multilateral bodies, aims to supply two billion vaccines by the end of 2021.
Of this total, WHO says 600 million doses will be for Africa, enough to vaccinate at least 20 percent of the population.
The BBC reports that India has donated the AstraZeneca vaccine to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, DR Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mozambique, eSwatini, Botswana, Mauritius and Seychelles.
Some African countries are, however, not taking part in the Covax scheme citing a lack of interest in the vaccines. Others have reportedly sourced vaccines from outside the scheme, including direct purchases from the manufacturers, or as donations from countries such as China, Russia, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Tanzania and Madagascar have said they have no plans to acquire vaccines, and Burundi says that at the moment, the East African country does not need vaccines.
In his viral message, Dr. Karanja has called on African countries to resist the vaccines, saying they pose “a major problem” for the future.
“The time has come. We can’t keep mourning forever. Sometimes (we must say) enough is enough,” the medic says and adds, “We must not only protect ourselves. But we must protect this continent now and in the future.”
“On behalf of Africa, because I am African and Kenyan, and because God has been so gracious, I became a medical doctor, please listen to me,” Dr. Karanja pleads and adds, “I mean well. Wake up all of you. Let us protect this continent.”
On their part, Catholic Bishops in Kenya have backed the vaccine, calling on the country’s Ministry of Health to affirm to the public that the vaccines are genuine, safe and effective in order to encourage people to be vaccinated.
“In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, the common good calls for vaccination, primarily to protect the weakest and most exposed,” members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said in their March 9 collective statement that was availed to ACI Africa.
SOURCE: ACI AFRICA
PHOTO CREDIT: Sermed Mezher
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