The Kenyan GP is asking the UK to postpone the booster plan as it often runs out of vaccinations

Dr. Marie-Claire Wangari often has to turn people away looking for vaccines because her hospital is running out of doses (Images: Facebook / Dr. Simon Kigondu / Sun Africa Studios LLC)

A Kenyan doctor urges the world’s richest countries to hold back booster programs while poorer countries struggle to get the first doses to citizens.

The NHS today launched its booster jab program – with NHS and social care workers, clinically vulnerable people and the over-50s first. But GP Marie-Claire Wangari, 27, believes these cans should instead be sent to countries like Kenya, which are still trying to get an initial round of stitches.

Kenya has only fully vaccinated 1.6% of its population while the UK has double vaccinated 66.09% of its population. At the current vaccination rate in Kenya, it will take an estimated 324 days to vaccinate only 10% of the population.

This means that the East African country will continue to fight its deadly fourth wave, spurred on by the Delta variant, largely unarmed.

21 Kenyans died from the virus just yesterday, while the nation recorded a record 213 deaths in the penultimate week of August (22-28). Even so, Kenya’s numbers are expected to be higher than officially recorded.

Dr. Wangari told Metro.co.uk, “I understand that every country is doing well for its people. But on my side I am sad because I think of this grandmother who really wants to be vaccinated, tried countless times to go to her nearest facility and told her there were no vaccines.

“The booster that would be given to someone in a developed country could be given to her.”

At the Nazareth Hospital outside of Nairobi, where Dr. Wangari works, people who try to get the vaccine are often turned away because there is no dose.

Most people could be vaccinated in the hospital in April, but then supplies became sporadic and doses were only available for the equivalent of two weeks in June, one week in July, and two and a half weeks in August.

Dr.  Marie-Claire Wangari.  A Kenyan doctor has pleaded the UK to postpone its booster program because vaccine inequality leaves them with no vaccinations for patients.

Dr. Wangari says booster vaccinations should benefit older and vulnerable people in poorer countries before they are given to already vaccinated people in richer countries (Image: Sun Africa Studios LLC)

Nazareth Hospital near Nairobi in Kenya.  A Kenyan doctor has pleaded the UK to postpone its booster program because vaccine inequality leaves them with no vaccinations for patients.

People looking for vaccines are often turned away from Nazareth Hospital because it doesn’t offer any vaccinations (Image: Facebook / Nazareth Hospital)

Between April and August, Nazareth Hospital gave only 647 first doses and 388 second doses – a total of 1,035 vaccinations.

As a consequence, the shortage of vaccines in some hospitals often leads to crippling queues at facilities where doses are available.

Even Dr. Wangari, who had priority as a health worker for the vaccination, had to miss a work day.

While she acknowledged that there are many reasons for Kenya’s delay in vaccination, including the country’s infrastructure and corruption, Dr. Wangari believes that “vaccine hoarding” is a major contributor in the West.

“It is good to focus on the needs of your citizens, but it is also good to think on a global scale,” said Dr. Wangari.

A long vaccination line outside a Kenyan hospital.  A Kenyan doctor has pleaded the UK to postpone its booster program because vaccine inequality leaves them with no vaccinations for patients.

Sporadic vaccine deliveries force people to congregate in hospitals and wait in impractically long lines (Image: Facebook / Dr. Simon Kigondu)

They are not the only doctors on site. UK Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland QC said global vaccination is the best way to fight this pandemic.

Her department told Metro.co.uk, “We continue to see vaccine stockpiling by high income countries and, more recently, by countries introducing booster doses.

“There is no quarantine policy, public health program, or vaccination rate that can protect our populations nearly as well as a concerted and coordinated effort for equitable vaccination eradicates the virus from all of our countries.”

Before the vaccination began, the WHO tried to ensure that each participating country could sting at least 20% of its population – through fair distribution through COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax).

But richer countries have been able to secure more doses for their own people by providing funding to drug companies and buying vaccinations in advance – and this is believed to have sent most of the world’s supply to wealthy nations.

Global Justice Now activist Joe Karp-Sawey called the UK “a major driver of vaccine inequality” for “hoarding as many vaccines as possible and undercutting Covax”.

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In total, the British government has secured 407,539,370 coronavirus doses, of which it has already received 109,539,370, according to data company Airfinitys.

Of the nearly five million vaccinations, the UK has access to 24.54% (100 million) are Oxford / AstraZeneca doses. This means that up to 75.46% of the country’s vaccines were purchased through bilateral agreements with pharmaceutical companies.

The booster program alone apparently cost the government around £ 1 billion, The Times reported last month.

Previously, the European Union (EU) secured 900 million Pfizer jabs with the option to buy the same amount again.

In fact, global demand for the vaccine has grown so much that the jabs are now reportedly selling for £ 20 instead of the previous £ 18 price.

The Kenyan GP is asking the UK to postpone the booster plan as it keeps running out of vaccinations

In total, Great Britain has secured 407,539,370 doses of coronavirus – through Covax, the state-owned Oxford / AstraZeneca jabs and bilateral agreements (Image: Global Justice Now)

An NHS health worker receiving her booster vaccination.  A Kenyan doctor has pleaded the UK to postpone its booster program because vaccine inequality leaves them with no vaccinations for patients.

Britain started its booster jab today – for NHS and social care workers, clinically vulnerable people and those over 50 – (Image: PA)

To circumvent the lack of access to existing vaccine supplies, South Africa and India proposed a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights last October.

The idea is to allow low to middle income countries to make their own versions of the vaccines through manufacturers that have been reviewed by WHO in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

However, many governments and pharmaceutical companies argue that different regulations and medical practices in different countries could put vaccines at risk from not being properly manufactured.

In a historic U-turn, the Joe Biden government supported TRIPS in May. But Britain, along with several other superpowers, is still blocking passage.

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In a statement, the government said it preferred to protect intellectual property while partnering with “eligible” members – so drug companies could ensure the stitches were carried out safely.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said: “The UK is leading the way to support a global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and improve access to vaccines.

“We are committed to donating 100 million cans to other countries by June 2022, and as part of that commitment, we have already delivered over 9 million cans to developing countries in Africa and Asia.

“In addition, the UK funding will help deliver around 1.8 billion vaccines to low- and middle-income countries through COVAX by early 2022.”

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