Medical experts have disowned National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga’s claim that a tetanus vaccine administered to Kenyan women in 2014 contained infertility elements.
In a statement issued in Nairobi on Monday, Raila said that the Catholic Church was right in its claims that the tetanus vaccination drive was a mass sterilization programme.
The former Prime Minister alleged that their analysis from four institutions named agriQ Quest Ltd, the Nairobi Hospital Laboratories, the University of Nairobi and Lancet Kenya, indicated that the Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine contained high contents of beta human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (BhCG), which causes pregnancy loss.
“The government, for some mysterious reason, was hell bent on misleading the country while intentionally sterilising Kenyan girls and women,” Raila said.
In 2014, the Catholic Church sparked controversy in 2014 when it claimed that around 500,000 women may have been rendered infertile as a result of the vaccine.
Consequently, Lancet, the University of Nairobi and the Nairobi Hospital conducted tests on the vaccine, but the Health ministry disputed the results and tabled the issue before parliamentary committee on health, which picked agriQ Quest Ltd on December 10, 2014 to test the samples afresh.
Lancet Kenya chief executive Dr Ahmed Kalebi has, however, says that the medical laboratory chain earlier explained that the analysis they conducted on the vaccine was not done properly and its findings could not be used to make a conclusive report on the matter.
“I haven’t heard or seen the presser from Mr Odinga, but I think he is misquoting us. We did not confirm anything and we even clarified the issue in 2014 with facts and opinion on the matter,” said Dr Kalebi.
Former Head of Pathology at Nairobi Hospital, Dr Andrew Gachii, also denied Odinga’s claims terming them “mere allegations”.
Gachii said the first vaccine samples received by Nairobi Hospital for tests were contaminated and the results could not be relied on because even the methodology used was wrong.
“Assessing vaccines is not like a blood test. The method used for the first sample and the equipment used were wrong and the results cannot be relied on,” he said.
The World Health Organisation also dismissed Raila's claims in a statement, ssying that the vaccine has been used in 52 countries to immunise more than 130 million women to shield newborn babies from tetanus.
“The organisation confirms that the tetanus toxoid vaccine is safe,” an official, who sought anonymity, said.
WHO had dismissed the claims of sterility elements in the vaccine in 2015.
“The vaccine has been widely and safely used for 40 years. Over that period, there has been a substantial decrease in neonatal tetanus and an increase in neonatal survival, and no signal of possible harm to pregnant women or their foetuses,” the statement, signed by former WHO country representative Dr Custodia Mandlhate, read.
The Ministry of Health also in a statement on Tuesday termed Raila's claims as careless and misleading.
"It is very unfortunate for someone to issue such a careless and misleading statement which is intended to cause harm to the public by dissuading them from accessing a necessary medical intervention."
"A joint committee found the sampled vaccine vials to be safe and free from any contaminants and recommended the vaccine for use," it said.