Latest analysis of data demonstrates that quickly channeling doses to vulnerable groups can save lives and reduce medical Bills.

Results from the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme’s latest modelling on COVID-19 vaccine scale-up within the country show that country’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign can achieve greater value for money if it focuses on the elderly, rather than a strategy that pursues scaling up vaccines to the whole population.

The research team modelled a broad range of COVID vaccine scale-up scenarios and tested each one for cost-effectiveness and its impact on the spread of the disease.

“This new data suggests that we can fight COVID-19 more effectively by re-focusing our efforts on those who need it most,” says Prof Edwine Barasa, Director at the Nairobi Programme of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme.

According to Prof Barasa  “Vaccines work and ensuring older adults and other at-risk groups receive them quickly is the best way to achieve greater health outcomes and is better value for money. We hope this data helps policymakers across the continent determine how to structure impactful, cost-effective, long-term COVID-19 responses.”

COVID-19 has had a number of negative impacts on the health system in Kenya over the past two years – 2019 and 2020- data from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria show that the number of malaria cases treated in the country fell by 27%, while HIV testing fell by 37% percent. Tuberculosis treatment declined by over 10,000 individuals.

These forecasts estimate what would happen if vaccine scale-up reached 30%, 50% or 70% of the Kenyan population, under both slow (18 month) and rapid (6 month) scenarios. A no vaccination scenario was modelled as a baseline. In all cases, the model scales up vaccination to adults over 50 years before extending to the broader population.

According to Justice Novignon, head of Africa CDC’s Health Economics Unit “The game has changed on COVID-19 and countries need to re-focus their COVID-19 vaccination programmes on strategies that will save more lives for less money, lower risk of severe disease and death by targeting the elderly and those with risk increasing comorbidities rather than to the whole population.