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    Africa Will Take Longer To Get Its First COVID19 Vaccine – Experts…

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    A man taking a swab test (courtesy photo)

    With the United Kingdom rolling out the world’s first approved coronavirus vaccine this week and other clinical trials showing promising results, the focus has swiftly turned towards the distribution of the doses worldwide and which countries will get them first, and which will be pushed to the back of the queue.

    On Thursday, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, John Nkengasong warned that “it will be extremely terrible to see” wealthy nations obtaining vaccines and African countries missing out, as he called on for an extraordinary United Nations session to discuss this “moral issue” and avoid a “North-South distrust in respect to vaccines, which is a common good”.

    Countries across Africa have largely been praised for their response to COVID-19 since the first infection was confirmed on the continent on February 14 in Egypt. Despite some observers initial doomsday predictions, the continent so far appears to have been spared the worst of the pandemic. Still, uncertainty remains and the threat of further economic pain due to the prospect of additional lockdowns have given the discussions about vaccine distribution extra urgency.

    There, have however been some challenges.

    Expressing concern over what it has branded as the continent’s “largest ever immunisation drive”, the World Health Organization has said the African region has an average score of 33 percent readiness for a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, well below the desired 80 percent.

    Meanwhile, Nkengasong has stressed that it is necessary to be realistic about immunisation campaigns due to challenges on how vaccines would be delivered across the continent, adding that it is unlikely that this will happen before the middle of 2021.

     

    What about Us?

    For Catherine Kyobutungi, epidemiologist and executive director of the African Population and Health Research Center, a big challenge regarding access to vaccines is “a lack of global solidarity”.

    “We’ve seen reports about countries like the US and UK securing a huge share of vaccine doses, which then leaves you wondering, what about the rest of us?”

    In a similar vein, the People’s Vaccine Alliance – a coalition of campaign organisations including Oxfam, Amnesty International and Global Justice Now – has condemned rich countries for “hoarding” vaccine doses to the detriment of poorer nations.

    “Wealthier nations have bought up enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021 if those currently in clinical trials are all approved for use,” it said.

    “Canada tops the chart with enough vaccines to vaccinate each Canadian five times. Updated data shows that rich nations representing just 14 per cent of the world’s population have bought up 53 per cent of all the most promising vaccines so far.”

    Tied to all this are financial constraints and the huge investments required to roll out vaccination campaigns, noted Benjamin Kagina, a senior researcher in vaccinology at The Vaccines for Africa Initiative, University of Cape Town.

    WHO has said getting a COVID-19 vaccine to priority populations will cost nearly $5.7bn, a sum that includes an additional 15-20 percent cost for materials, training, logistics and community mobilisation.

    “Affordability of a vaccine given the high global demand is an issue, particularly in light of the economic impact of the pandemic,” said Kagina.

    Putting aside the financial factors, experts also pointed to the substantial infrastructure and logistical challenges.

    For example, the vaccine from Pfizer/BIoNTech needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit), while the one from Moderna has to be kept at -20C (-4F). In contrast, the inoculation developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford can be stored at standard refrigeration temperatures, leading experts to say that this vaccine candidate could be the “best” option for many African countries.

    Early this year, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance launched COVAX, a global initiative that aims to distribute low-cost vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.

    Once a vaccine does arrive, a number of other issues would also need to be addressed in order to ensure a successful roll-out.

    Based on an analysis carried out by the WHO, 49 percent of African countries have identified their priority populations and have plans in place to reach them.

    “High-risk groups like healthcare workers may not be difficult to reach, but most countries do not have a strategy in place to reach groups like the elderly, so new strategies will need to be developed,” said Kagina.

    Placing an emphasis on logistics, Kyobutungi noted: “In many African countries, vaccines are usually administered to children under the age of five; that’s a small segment of the population. Now we have to think about the entire population: For example how many syringes, healthcare workers, rooms, and clinics will be required for this?

    “Similarly, on a global level, in October UNICEF announced that it will be stockpiling 520 million syringes to guarantee initial supply for when the COVID-19 vaccine arrives; we have to consider the impact of demand for these essentials,” she added.

    Rolling out the vaccine in urban and rural areas is likely going to require slightly different approaches, particularly in terms of transportation, storage and education, and this would require government investment ahead of time.

    Another factor to consider is tailoring the vaccination campaigns to the way the majority of the population go about their daily lives, according to Kyobutungi.

    “Preventative healthcare services are usually accessed by women and children, men and older children generally seek healthcare when they are unwell. You will have segments of the population who will consider the opportunity cost of, ‘If I go to the clinic and have to queue there all day, will I lose a daily wage? Is this something I am willing to do?’”

    She said a potential solution to this could involve offering the vaccine at offices, events and places of worship. “Governments are going to have to think outside the box,” added Kyobutungi.

    As in other parts of the world, vaccine hesitancy is also likely to be an issue due to suspicion, fear and a history of medical colonialism. Countering this would require robust and ongoing advocacy to address public concerns, experts said.

    Regarding the potential effect of a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out on existing vaccination programmes on the continent, Kyobutungi said it would make sense for current systems to be repurposed and work in parallel with a COVID-19 campaign. This would require meticulous planning and careful resource allocation on the part of governments and the global health community, especially in order to ensure other services are not disrupted.

    So with all these factors at play, what does the timescale look like in terms of Africa and a COVID-19 vaccine?

    “It may take time but we will get there,” said Kyobutungi.

    “I expect that it will be the first quarter of 2022 by when a significant population of Africa will have been vaccinated,” she added, stressing the importance of “global solidarity in action”.

     

    By John Kenny Adeya

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    AFRICA FOCUS

    Save Your Country From Musevenism; Bobi Wine Warns Kenyans Over Proposal To Remove Term Limits…

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    President Ruto with Fafi Constituency MP, Salah Yakub who proposed that term limits should be remover in Kenya. On the right is Bobi Wine

    National Unity Platform (NUP) president, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has warned Kenyans to save their country from Musevenism.

    Bobi Wine’s warning came after Kenyan Member of Parliament for Fafi Constituency, Salah Yakub suggested that the limit on two terms for president should be removed.

    “We want to tell all Kenyans that the limit on two terms (for president) should be relooked. We want it to be changed to an age limit where one gets to 75 years then he or she cannot contest,” he said.

    The legislator added that they will come up with an amendment Bill to try to change this because they want the requirement to be on age limit and not terms.

    “If a president is doing a good job, then he or she should not be limited by the terms.”

    Bobi Wine however advised Kenyans to be vigilant and save their country from Musevenism.

    “This may come off as a lone MP making a ridiculous suggestion, but this is how it starts. Exactly how Museveni began schemes to remove term and age limits. Defend your Constitution before it’s too weak to defend you.”

    NUP’s General Secretary, Lewis Rubongoya also expressed his fears noting that he hopes Kenyans are not falling into the same trap.

    He said, “To remove term limits, Gen. Museveni used James Kakooza. For term limits, he used Raphael Magyezi. First, they appeared as random MPs making proposals. Turned out the plots were birthed in State House. I hope our Kenyan brothers are not falling in the same trap. They won’t like it.

    “The objective of any dictator at this point would be to make something so immoral a subject of public debate. Even if most people make angry remarks about it, the dictator’s objective is fulfilled when it is discussed as he has capacity to pay some people to discuss in its favour.”

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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    AFRICA FOCUS

    Village Boy Swears In As President Of Kenya; President Ruto Delivers Emotional Speech After Inauguration…

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    President William Ruto has been sworn in as the 5th President of the Republic of Kenya today in an occasion that took place at Kasarani International Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.

    “I, William Ruto, in full realization of the high calling I assume as President/Acting President/Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, do swear/solemnly affirm that i will obey, preserve, protect and defend this Constitution of Kenya as by law established, and all other laws of the Republic and that I will protect and uphold the sovereignty, integrity and dignity of the people of Kenya. So help me God.”

    PRESIDENT KAGUTA MUSEVENI CONGRATULATES RUTO

    After the inauguration, Museveni congratulated President Ruto and thanked Uhuru Kenyatta on behalf of the Presidents who attended the occasion.

    Museveni said, “All the political class in Africa, I appeal to you to answer the question, Where does prosperity come from?

    “According to my experience of 60 years, I would advise Africans to know that prosperity comes from wealth creation. Wealth is not the same as natural resources. Wealth means commercial agriculture, services, manufacturing, hotels, and ICT, etc.”

    Museveni divulged that in order for Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, and other countries to catch up with the United States, they need to work on the issue of regional markets.

    RUTO DELIVERS EMOTIONAL SPEECH

    In his speach after being sworn in as president, William Ruto said, “To the people of Kenya, this is a momentous occasion to our country, our politics and our elections have never failed to be a motive, engaging and dramatic.”

    Ruto further noted that this day comes on the back of a peaceful election, following an intense issue-based campaign in which major coalitions made up of strong political parties canvassed their agenda and took it for examination by the people of Kenya.

    “We have done well as a nation. We have come a long way in our nation’s journey to freedom, and going by our most recent performance in this election. We conclude in confidence that we are almost home,” he added.

    Ruto hailed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson, Wafula Chebukati for standing firm, resisting bribery, intimidation, blackmail and doing the right thing.

    “It is also important to celebrate our judiciary for sustaining its tradition of boldly giving much-needed guidance especially during allying post-election anxieties and resolving grievances in a sensitive, credible and authoritative manner.”

    He contended, “We have all, therefore, emerged out of this context stronger, more united and alive to the issues that are more common to all of us. We should remain conscious that we have all been elected to work together in ensuring that our children go to school, our people have food and decent health care and our young people have jobs and our workers have dignified livelihoods.

    “For we believe strongly that every hustle matters. Dreams and ambitions live in the hearts of Kenyans who struggle daily often with nothing except stubborn hope.”

    Ruto propounded that he stands with great humility and profound joy as a living testimony that with faith in God, willingness to work hard and commitment to a vision, dreams can become reality in the fullness of time.

    “I promise to throw open every door of opportunity and to keep every door open until success torries become the norm rather than the exceptional and urge all other leaders so that we can together expand the opportunity and chance for many of our citizens,” he maintained.

    RUTO TO SWEAR IN SIX JUDGES ON WEDNESDAY.

    Upon swearing in, Ruto immediately appointed six judges.

    “To further demonstrate my commitment to the independence of the judiciary, this afternoon I will appoint six judges already nominated for appointment to the court of appeal which was done three years ago by the judicial service commission,” he stated.

    Ruto added, “And tomorrow I shall preside over their swearing-in so that they can get on with the business of serving the people of Kenya.

    “As required by Article 245 of the Constitution, the Inspector General of Police is mandated to exercise independent command over the national police service.”

    Ruto also emphasized that his government commits to create a business-friendly environment, eradicate barriers that hamper business development and growth and make Kenya one of the most compelling and attractive business destinations.

    “We are an open democratic society founded on freedom and justice, we take pride in receiving visitors and offering them our legendary hospitality. Kenya is a land of immense natural beauty and unforgettable delight.”

    He concluded, “Ladies and Gentlemen I stand here on my day to make a commitment, I will make pronouncements that are going to better define the trajectory of my administration. I promise to make every Kenyan proud and to ensure the economic well-being of us.”

     

    By Kalamira Hope

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    AFRICA FOCUS

    KENYA ELECTION: Supreme Court Puts Final Nail In Odinga’s Political Coffin; Ruto Tells Kenyatta Who Betrayed Him “You Will Be Treated Well”, Vows To End Politics Of Deceit, Betrayal And Conmanship…

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    L-R: President-elect William Ruto, Chief Justice Martha Koome and Raila Odinga

    Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld William Ruto’s presidential win in a scathing judgement that blasted opposition leader Raila Odinga’s accusations of cheating.

    In the presidential election that took place on 15th August, 2022, Ruto garnered 7,176,141 votes making 50.49% while Raila Odinga garnered 6,942,930 votes making 48.85%.

    Odinga challenged William Ruto’s win in the Supreme Court and alleged the tally had involved “criminality”.

    In his petition, Odinga asked the court to nullify the vote’s outcome on several grounds, including a mismatch between the turnout figures and the result, and alleges the election commission failed to tally ballots from 27 constituencies, rendering the result unverifiable and unaccountable.

    “We have enough evidence to prove all of the criminality that occurred. We are confident that in the end, the truth will be revealed,” Odinga said.

    In a televised judgement, Chief Justice Martha Koome, who heads the seven-member court, dismissed all the eight petitions challenging the elections.

    “The court found some of these petitions were based on forged documents and “sensational information”, Chief Justice Martha Koome said in a unanimous decision on behalf of the seven judges.

    “No credible evidence that the electronic voting transmission system had been tampered with by a supposed “middle man” was presented,” she said.

    Koome even raised the possibility of perjury, noting that two people who filed affidavits allegedly on behalf of polling stations agents had not spoken to the agents.

    “Swearing to falsehoods is a criminal offence,” she said.

    Ms. Koome also said that Mr Ruto had met the constitutional threshold of garnering 50%+1 of votes cast.

    “IEBC carried out the verification, tallying, and declaration of results in accordance with the provided constitutional law.”

    “This court upholds the election of the first respondent (William Ruto) as the president-elect,” Koome ruled.

    Kenya’s 5th President William Ruto will be sworn in on September 13th, 2022.

    WE RESPECT OPINION OF COURT BUT DISAGREE WITH RULING – ODINGA

    Meanwhile, Odinga has disagreed with the Supreme court ruling.

    “We have always stood for the rule of law and the constitution. In this regard, we respect the opinion of the court although we vehemently disagree with their decision today,” Odinga’s statement reads.

    He adds, “Our lawyers proffered irrefutable evidence and the facts were on our side, unfortunately the judges saw it otherwise. We find it incredible that the judges found against us on all nine grounds and occasion resulted to unduly exaggerated language to refute our claims.

    “This judgement is by no means the end of our movement, in fact it inspires us to redouble our efforts to transform this country into a prosperous democracy where each and every Kenyan can find their full belonging.

    “We thank our supporters and Kenyans across the country for standing with us. We will be communicating in the near future on our plans to continue our struggle for transparency, accountability and democracy,” Odinga adds.

    This is Odinga’s fifth attempt at the presidency; he blamed several previous losses on rigging. Those disputes triggered violence that claimed more than 100 lives in 2017 and more than 1,200 lives in 2007.

    THIS MARKS THE END OF POLITICS OF DECEIT, BETRAYAL AND CONMANSHIP – RUTO

    Reacting to the Supreme Court ruling, Kenya’s new President-elect Williams Ruto, accompanied by his wife  Mama Rachel Ruto and his running mate, and future deputy president Rigathi Gachagua with wife laid out his vision of a democratic Kenya.

    Ruto said he welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold his election victory with “tremendous humility” and praised the judges for their “neutrality” and “patriotism”.

    Even though it is well known that President Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto – who was his deputy – fell out several years ago, which saw Mr. Kenyatta backing his opponent Mr. Raila Odinga, Ruto said he will put a call to him.

    “I will shortly be putting a call to my good friend President Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said to laughter from all those watching on.

    “I haven’t talked to him [Kenyatta] in months…I know he worked hard in his own way… I take no offence that he decided to choose and support somebody else and therefore we will remain friends.”

    Mr. Ruto also said that Mr. Kenyatta will be treated well.

    “We will respect our president in his retirement… we are honourable people, we are not petty and we are not jealous. He has done a good job and he will have his place in the history of Kenya. Nobody should harbour anything against the president of Kenya.”

    Ruto promised to stamp out division in Kenya and forge a path of unity saying democracy should not be an “acrimonious enterprise”.

    He extended a hand of friendship to his political opponents, saying those who voted for his competitors all want what is best for Kenya and that he is committed to delivering that.

    “We are not enemies, we are Kenyans. Let us unite to make Kenya a nation of which everyone shall be proud to call home.”

    “This marks the end of the politics of deceit, betrayal and conmanship,” he said.

    “We want the politics of the Kenya of the future – every leader must be judged on what they say and what they say is what they do.”

     

    By Hope Kalamira

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