By Tabitha Oeri

Kenya has picked up to 36 mutations risking a third wave of the Covid-19 virus anticipated to erupt in March 2021. This third peak is due to an alarming increase in the positivity rate from 5% to approximately 7.2 or 7.3%.

This is according to Dr Jeremy Gitau, Head of Emergency and Accidents Department at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) and the Chair KUTRRH Covid Champions Response Team.

Dr Gitau made the remarks during a two-days training workshop on Health Solutions Journalism held on 17-18 February, 2021 by Science Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.

Under the topic: “Emerging Trends in Covid-19 Pandemic Management in Kenya, Including Challenges in Reducing the rate of Infections and fatalities”, Dr Gitau expressed confidence that Kenya is able to control the virus even if the third peak emerges.

This assurance is a result of lower death rate in Kenya compared to other countries in Africa. He declared this showing Kenya’s preparedness and ability in controlling the spread of the virus.

However, the Chairman KUTRRH Covid Champions Response team emphasized the need for Kenyans to continue observing the right Covid-19 control measures without laxity.

Pointing out on the new trend of politics around vaccination and safety, Dr Gitau expressed confidence in the genuineness of the vaccines and its efficacy. He encouraged Kenyans confirming, the vaccines are safe to use as they are undergoing four different levels of clinical tests to approve them for use.

“So far, there are 16 vaccines that have been generated however, four have been released into the market. For instance, Moderna and Pfizer which have a viability of 94-95% and are mostly being used in the United States (US),” Dr Gitau said.

Kenya is on the list to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in Mid-March this year. In this regard Dr Gitau highlighted that modelling is important for contingency planning.

Dr Gitau also called on journalists to continue educating the masses in understanding the virus and all the information around it. This is in regard to the trend of the Home Based Care strategy. People need to understand who qualifies for the strategic plan and when it is safe to end the home isolation.

Nonetheless, hope remains high for Kenyans as the country is being involved in the third phase of clinical trial on the virus. This gives Kenya a priority to access new vaccines once they are ready for the market.

Despite the risk factors to severe Covid-19 patients suffering from various ailments especially chronic such as diabetes, HIV and AIDs, hypertension and dialysis patients or respiratory illnesses, the vaccine might be the only remedy.

Dr John Masasabi, former Director General, Ministry of Health and currently Lecturer at Kenyatta University, School of Medicine also affirmed the new solutions journalism approach of reporting, compliments the Government policy.

Dr Masasabi encouraged journalists to be bold enough in seeking information from government officials without fear of the bureaucracy inertia. He further emphasized the need for journalists to involve other Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) as well as other institutions to enrich their solutions journalism stories.

Mr Otula Owuor, the Executive Director, Science Africa noted the importance of ethics regulations in covering various health-related issues. He encouraged science journalists to read widely to better inform their audiences.

“To inform people, you need to be well informed thus by reading widely. This is to help curb the risk of misinformation on matters of great importance such as Covid-19,” Mr Otula emphasized.