Have You Gotten The Jab?

The economic viability of the COVID-19 vaccination program

The emergence of COVID-19 has posed an unprecedented challenge to the world’s economy and the healthcare delivery system. There has been an emphasis on the use of non-pharmaceutical measures such as physical distancing, hand washing, and wearing of masks to reduce the spread, but efforts have been made to produce vaccines that will play a role in reducing transmission.

At the peak of the pandemic, most countries worldwide resolved to a suspension of their economic activities, popularly known as “lockdown” with the aim of stopping the spread of Covid19. This led to severe economic losses as governments in sub-Saharan Africa were cut off from revenue due to freezes in economic activities and tax relief measures to enable businesses to survive. IMF data available up to December 2020 revealed that the pandemic caused a median 15% drop in the monthly tax revenues compared to the previous years.

What is the economic viability of the COVID-19 vaccination program? Currently, the statistics of the reported COVID-19 cases in Kenya are at 385000, with a death toll of 5621 since the onset of the pandemic. There has been an unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. Wealthier countries have paid trillions in stimulus to prop up faltering economies. Now is the time to ensure vaccine doses are quickly distributed, all barriers to increasing vaccine manufacturing removed, and financial support is secured so that vaccines can be distributed equitably and a truly global economic recovery can occur. The government of Kenya has set up a strategy that aims at vaccinating the entire adult population by mid-2022. One of the drawbacks of this initiative is that the vaccines available are multi-dose vaccines that require a cold chain storage system to be viable by the time they get to the individuals. We are faced with the challenge of inadequate storage facilities.

Nevertheless, the government of Kenya has made efforts to ensure that vaccines are available to all. It is a good move as it will reduce the overall number of people who succumb to the infection. The economic benefit it will have is that there will be no lockdown because we have noted a decrease in the reported number of new cases since the start of the vaccination program. One fact remains: when we get the vaccine, we will still have to use non-pharmaceutical measures to protect ourselves until we all acquire herd immunity. A healthy nation is a wealthy nation.

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