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COVID-19 vaccine pricing in Kenya

Wanjiku Kariuki


People’s Vaccine is a global campaign whose goal is to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed and made unconditionally accessible to people everywhere and not just to those who can afford it. The campaign also realizes that the vaccine should be made a public good and not allow for monopolization which would substantially result in the extension of the pandemic due to its inaccessibility and unfavourable cost.


With the urgency of the spread of the COVID 19 virus, there have been several advancements in the development of the vaccine. Recently, the UK approved the vaccine from the Pfizer/BioNtech developer which was determined to be 95% effective. With this regard, the UK is due to get 40 million doses and the vaccine is already underway with the first administration taking place on 8th December 2020. (Gallagher, 2020)


The procurement of the vaccine in the UK, Asian Countries and the United States, among others seemed fast-tracked while a majority of the African countries are yet to implement prevention and mitigation measures. Updated data shows that rich nations representing just 14% of the world’s population have bought up 53% of all the promising vaccines so far (ALJAZEERA, 2020). In addition to the lack of commitment by the Kenyan government to ensure that its citizens obtain the Covid-19 vaccine, this report highlights key concerns that face Kenyans in the event that the vaccine commercialized.


Population and Income Distribution

The population of Kenya is estimated at 47,564,2961 resulting from the Census that took place in August 2019 (KNBS, 2019). The following is the distribution of individuals in categories as indicated;


Pie chart of the distribution of individuals based on employment and work activeness from age


This indicates that 67% of Kenyans lack economical means to support their upkeep and cater to basic needs. 33% of the population is spread out in the formal and informal sector (KNBS, 2020). By 2018, the informal sector was estimated at 83.6% of total employment. Since there are no accurate statistics on how many people work in the informal economy, there is no accurate information on what individuals in this sector earn (The Conversation, 2020). This report solely incorporates data relating to the salaried individuals in the formal sector. The following is the income distribution of Kenyans in the formal sector;


Income distribution of Kenyans in the formal sector.


Individuals whose income is above KES 24,000 are subject to income tax with rates ranging from 10% to 25%, in addition to the tax, it is reported that Kenyans spend up to 40% of their household income on rent while food and clothing account for slightly less than a quarter of the budget (Cytonn, 2020). Therefore, individuals in the lower middle- income levels representing about 29% of the working population would be able to afford the vaccine at KES 327 and KES 1,635 with those in the lower-income levels representing 44.7% of the working population being unable to afford the drug without foregoing some core goods and services. Individuals in the Upper Middle and Upper-Income levels (about 26%) would be able to afford the vaccine at the price range of KES 327 and KES 2,725 with ease.


Poverty and Access to services

This report recognizes that poverty is realized both as monetary poverty and multidimensional poverty as illustrated by the Kenya Comprehensive Poverty Analysis prepared in July 2020 which summarily provides that (All Africa, 2020);


The monetary poverty line is Kshs. 3,252 in Rural areas and Kshs. 5,995 in Urban areas. The analysis finds that more than half (53%) of the population or 23.4 million Kenyans are multidimensionally poor, deprived in the realization of at least 3 basic needs, services and rights with one in every three Kenyans being monetary poor translating to 36% or 15.9 million Kenyans.


  • Whereas an individual may be willing to procure the vaccine independently, this inadvertently translates to foregoing one or more of their basic needs to obtain the vaccine at the least stated price of KES 327 as the rest of the vaccines would be too expensive to acquire, this puts about 23.4 million Kenyans at risk without the vaccine.


Multidimensional poverty incidence in rural areas (67%) is more than twice the incidence in urban areas (27%) with monetary poverty incidence in rural areas being higher than in urban areas standing at 40% compared to 29%. In addition to multidimensional and monetary poverty, geographical disparities in poverty indicate that there are inequalities in accessibility and availability of services.


Kenya’s population census of 2019 indicates that 68.9%, approximately 37.7 million of Kenyans live in the rural areas with 31.1%, approximately 14.83 million of Kenyans living in urban areas and about 52% live in poverty, access to health care for complex cases such as COVID-19 is limited. Persons within the rural areas have to travel long distances to reach local or regional health care facilities as these areas largely depend on community health volunteers and the community primary health care facilities that lack medication and do not have access to some of the vital equipment used to treat respiratory conditions such as the ventilators and intensive care beds that are necessary to treat Covid-19 (ASHAWIRE, 2020).


Budget Allocation

COVID 19 has impacted the country in all the sectors including, the economic, labour force, housing, transport, trade, tourism and aviation and most importantly the Health sector.


The national government earmarked KES 1.752 Trillion for its ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). The specific ministries are indicated below with a key highlight of the Ministry of Health (The Star, 2020);



It is worth noting that while the allocation of resources to the MDAs has reduced, the Ministry of Health has only been allocated approximately 6% (Oxfam, 2020) of the total budget, against the 15% target according to the Abuja declaration made in April 2001 (World Health Organization, 2011), with 2.7 billion earmarked for the Kenya Covid-19 Emergency Response Project to facilitate Covid-19 testing and treatment and allocation to this project remains unchanged compared with the 2019/20 second supplementary budget (Development Initiatives, 2020).


A quarter of the Kenyan population regularly lacks access to healthcare. A recent study estimated that nearly 2.6 million people fall into poverty or remain poor due to ill health each year. (Oxfam, 2020)


There have been three organizations that have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 vaccine development. Of these the range of prices are as follows; be KES. 327 from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, Pfizer KES. 2,180 and Moderna’s between KES. 1,635 to KES. 2,725 (Olingo, 2020). This is a table analysis of the cost that would be incurred for the procurement of the vaccine by the Kenyan government for its citizens4.



WHO has indicated that getting a Covid-19 vaccine to priority populations will cost nearly $5.7 billion, a sum that includes an additional 15-20% per cent cost for materials, training, logistics and community mobilization (ALJAZEERA, 2020). Moreover, Gavi and WHO estimate that the current cost to deliver 2bn doses in 2021 is up to $18.1 billion. Their Covid-19 accelerator programme, which aims to give poorer countries the tools to combat the pandemic, has a total funding gap of $27.9 billion of September 2020. With the estimates provided, adequate global vaccination will not be possible in 2021 without at least another vaccine being approved. Kenya is among the countries projected to obtain the vaccine in 2022 (Economic Intelligence Unit, 2020).



Summarily, the Kenyan population faces several problems with its long-term address to Covid-19 including substantial infrastructure and logistical challenges in obtaining and distribution of the vaccine, limited or lack of funds by individuals to procure the vaccine, inaccessibility of healthcare services and poor healthcare facilities to cater for the growing population.

As at date, it is worth noting that the Kenyan government has made no movement to support spending on Covid-19 prevention plans or initiated any negotiations to form consortiums that would ensure that mass procurement of the vaccine is given at lower prices than those established in the market (Science Africa, 2020) (Development Initiatives, 2020).


Works Cited

ALJAZEERA. (2020, December 11). Coronavirus Pandemic. Retrieved from ALJAZEERA:

All Africa. (2020, August 12). All Africa. Retrieved from All Africa:

ASHAWIRE. (2020, October 21). ASHAWIRE. Retrieved from ASHAWIRE:

Cytonn. (2020, December 10). Cytonn. Retrieved from Cytonn:

Development Initiatives. (2020). Kenya's Covid-19 budget: Funding for health and welfare. Nairobi: Development Initiatives.

Economic Intelligence Unit. (2020, November 20). Economic Intelligence Unit. Retrieved from Economic Intelligence Unit:

Gallagher, J. (2020, December 8). Health. Retrieved from BBC NEWS:

KNBS. (2019, November 4). 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census Results. Retrieved from KNBS:

KNBS. (2020). Quarterly Labour Force Report. Nairobi: KNBS.

Olingo, A. (2020, November 24). Kenyans to pay Sh327 to get coronavirus vaccine. Retrieved from Nation Media Group: vaccine-3208058

Oxfam. (2020). Kenya Extreme Inequality Numbers. Retrieved from Oxfam:

Science Africa. (2020, November 27). Retrieved from Science Africa:

The Conversation. (2020, March 22). The Conversation. Retrieved from The Conversation: from-kenya-134151

The Star. (2020, June 6). The Star. Retrieved from The Star: 06-mps-approve-treasurys-sh273-trillion-budget/

World Health Organization. (2011). The Abuja Declaration: Ten Years ON. World Health Organization.

Worldometer. (2020). Worldometer. Retrieved from Worldometer:


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