Church faults State over lack of cooperation on vaccine testing
Church leaders have complained that the Government did not involve them when polio and tetanus vaccines were being tested to check if they are healthy for human consumption.
The Catholic Church claimed the government went ahead to administer the polio and tetanus vaccines to pupils in Kenya without having clear results of the tests.
Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Philip Anyolo revealed that the joint committee of experts from both the Ministry of Health and the church, which oversaw the joint testing of the vaccines, never agreed on the final results presented to them.
“The test was to be carried together after the team picked out the laboratories. However, we were kept in the dark,” Bishop Anyolo said.
He claimed that despite the joint committee being formed to oversee the process, the ministry went ahead to conduct the tests alone and “only ambushed us with the results”.
This revelation came after The Nation published contents of a demand letter by Gitobu Imanyara Advocates in which a Nairobi laboratory threatened to sue the government for failing to pay Sh13.8 million for tests on the two controversial vaccines.
The company, Agriq Quest Ltd, claimed that the government declined to pay for the laboratory tests because it wanted the results altered to show that the vaccines were fit to be administered to women and children.
According to the letter, the samples of the vaccines tested were found to have been contaminated.
The letter also said that even after paying Sh5.7 million, the Ministry of Health failed to pick up final results of the tetanus vaccine analysis it had jointly asked for with the Catholic Church.
Bishop Anyolo noted the ministry was not keen to cooperate with the church.
“We stand by our statement that those vaccines were contaminated.”
“All we wanted was to alert the government that there could be something wrong with the vaccines used in mass campaigns and have them tested,” the bishop added.
A source at Agriq Quest Ltd privy to the matter said that all they wanted was for the ministry to pay their dues and not cause a stir over the vaccines.
“Our brief was to do an analysis and hand over the results to the joint committee. I cannot remember if they agreed on the results,” the source said.
“They came and evaluated the laboratory and agreed to have the tests done here. But we cannot give you the results unless either of the parties agree and send us written authorisation,” they added.
A copy of the said results posted on the KCCB website indicates that three of the 59 tetanus vaccines given in 2016 in Kenya were found to be contaminated with Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that can cause infertility in women.
“Following the laboratory assessment, three of the analysed vaccine samples submitted for analysis were found to contain hCG hormone,” the report reads.
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board in Kenya later posted another report from the same company on polio vaccine, which showed that none of the polio vaccine samples was contaminated.
March 29, 2020