Senior Kenyan government officials on Saturday received a batch of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine doses from China as the East African nation ramps up inoculations for high-risk populations against the virus, saying they would reinvigorate the pandemic fight in the country.
"The vaccines we are receiving today are testament to the cordial relations that exist between our two countries and extend beyond health care to include trade and other sectors of development," said Susan Mochache, principal secretary of the Ministry of Health, who was among the officials welcoming the arrival of the vaccine doses donated by China at the main airport in the capital Nairobi.
Kenya's medicine regulatory agency has already approved China's Sinopharm vaccine alongside vaccines developed by Moderna, Johnson&Johnson, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, as the country is accelerating its inoculation process.
Mochache said the arrival of the Sinopharm vaccine marks a significant milestone in Kenya's quest to contain the pandemic and hasten a return to normalcy.
The two-dose Sinopharm vaccine, which can be administered within a 28-day gap and can be stored in temperatures ranging from 2-8 degrees Celsius, is ideal for Kenya's cold chain capacity, Mochache said.
Zhang Yijun, minister counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, said the vaccine donation reaffirms the vitality of bilateral cooperation between Nairobi and Beijing.
The vaccines that have arrived and are arriving "are a testament of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between our two countries and the profound traditional friendship between our two peoples," said Zhang.
China has donated ventilators, face masks and personal protective equipment to Kenya, and shared with the country knowledge about pandemic control and prevention.
Kenyan health experts earlier expressed confidence in China's Sinopharm vaccine, saying that its widespread access will help suppress the coronavirus, relieve pressure on the public health system and boost economic recovery.
Willis Akhwale, chair of the COVID-19 vaccine task force in the Ministry of Health, said that the approval of Sinopharm by his country's medicine regulatory agency was a vote of confidence in its efficacy.
The Chinese vaccines have also been deployed in Rwanda, which received 200,000 Sinopharm doses on Aug. 19, and Zimbabwe, which received a batch of Sinovac vaccine doses purchased from China on July 8.
South Africa's Health Products Regulatory Authority approved the use of the Sinovac vaccine on July 3, with state officials, labor unions, as well as political and civil society leaders expressing confidence in its potency.