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Kenyan bishop opposes Covid-19 vaccine trial

Foreign agencies are accused of offering money to the poor without revealing after-effects of tests

UCA News reporter

UCA News reporter

Updated: May 17, 2020 03:29 AM GMT
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Kenyan bishop opposes Covid-19 vaccine trial

A health worker takes a sample from a truck driver undergoing a test for the coronavirus in Busia, a town bordering Uganda in western Kenya, on May 14. (Photo: Brian Ongoro/AFP)

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A Catholic bishop in Kenya has warned against testing potential coronavirus vaccines on his unsuspecting countrymen, saying it violates human dignity.

Bishop James Wainaina Kungu of Murang said keeping Kenyans in the dark about the risks of testing the new vaccines amounts to a breach of the African country’s constitution.

The pandemic is a grave matter but" it should not in any way be used to compromise the rights and dignity of the citizens,” the 63-year-old prelate said.

He was reacting to media reports claiming a UK-based agency is seeking approval of the Kenyan government to undertake a clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine, said a Catholic News Agency (CNA) report. 

The Daily Nation, Kenya's top-selling newspaper, said scientists in the Kenya Medical Research Institute are seeking the nod to test three types of drugs on Kenyans.

The reports said scientists plan to conduct the trials on more than 6,000 people by the end of May.

“Everything should be done with maximum openness, and testing should not be carried out on unsuspecting citizens,” Bishop Kungu added.

Foreign agencies are offering the money to the poor to turn them into “human subject of research” without revealing the after-effects, Bishop Kungu pointed out.

“Poverty, it must be said, or sickness does not remove the dignity of a person. The dignity of the poor must nevertheless be protected,” the bishop added.

He noted that Kenya’s constitution requires public participation in decisions concerning human drug trials, which is “a serious health matter.”

According to scientists, the potential vaccine will make the body develop an immune system to the Spike protein that will help stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from entering human cells.

If the trials achieve the desired results, the first few million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine may be available by September.

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