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2.6 million Kenyans already infected with Covid-19: Kemri report



About 2.6 million Kenyans already have the coronavirus, scientists suggest after testing donated blood for antibodies.

Antibodies are proteins made by the body to attack foreign substances such as viruses and bacteria.

Their presence in blood indicates the individual has ever been infected — even if that person never showed symptoms.

The prevalence of antibodies to the virus ranged from 1.1 per cent in blood donated in Uasin Gishu county to 12.4 per cent in Nairobi.

The researchers from the Kenya Medical Research Institute – Wellcome Trust tested blood donated across the country between April 30 and June 16.

“Antibody testing suggests many more Kenyans have already been exposed to Covid-19 than have been identified by surveillance activities,” Kemri says in a policy brief, released early this week.

Kemri estimates about 550,000 people in Nairobi and roughly 100,000 in Mombasa, have already contracted and recovered from Covid-19, probably gaining some immunity.

Some could have been infected as early as March because the antibodies can linger in the blood for several months.

The numbers suggest that Kenyans should be seeing significant severe disease cases and deaths, but this has not yet happened.

At least 6,000 people should also have died from the disease countrywide, based on the current crude death rate.
“The large numbers of the population that have been exposed would lead models to predict significant numbers of severe cases and deaths. However, the county hospitals in which monitoring for pneumonia admissions is established are not seeing high numbers of admissions,” the Kemri report said.

The researchers said they tested only 2,535 blood samples, and it is possible they over-estimated the number of people who have been exposed to Covid-19.

“Many more samples including sources outside blood donors are required to make confident conclusions,” they said.

Normal PCR tests on throat and nose swabs only reveal active infection and cannot reveal people who have recovered from infection.

By July 1, the government had conducted only 173,355 PCR tests, out which 6,673 turned positive.

Public health specialist Dr Richard Ayah called for caution, saying the Kemri results were based on convenient sampling and may not be applied on the general population.

“There is no random sampling and the sample is taken from a group of people easy to contact or to reach. In this case it was from blood donors,” he said.

Kemri acknowledged the shortcoming.

“The ideal way of estimating exposure to Covid-19 in the Kenyan population would be visiting randomly selected homesteads to collect and then test blood samples. This has not been practical under current restrictions,” it said in the report.

Dr Ayah said the sample sizes are also too small for the results to be extrapolated to the wider population.

For instance, in Nairobi only 137 blood samples were tested for antibodies.

“The power of study is diminished when the sample size is too small,” he said.

Dr Ayah further noted the confidence intervals was too wide. This refers to the probability that a population parameter will fall between two set values for a certain proportion of times.

However, he says the results reveal important details.

“For instance, it appears most people with antibodies are outside Nairobi and Mombasa, which means the lockdown failed,” he said.

Dr Ayah is the director of Science & Technology Park at the University of Nairobi and the director of the University of California at San Francisco programmes in Kenya.

Veteran chest health specialist Dr Joseph Aluoch said the presence of antibodies in so many people is a good thing.

He said re-infection with Covid-19 is uncommon, suggesting that the presence of antibodies could confer at least short-term immunity.

“It may prove there is some herd immunity. But we still don’t know how effective that immunity is. It means the body mounted some soldiers against the infection, but we don’t know how many they are, how strong those soldiers are and how long they will be there.”

He said antibody tests also help determine the prevalence of a disease in the community, helping the authorities to mount the right approaches, for instance, whether to extend lockdowns, and physical distancing measures.

“For instance, we know Kenya has 1.5 million people with HIV because of antibody tests, and this has helped with the right approach,” he said.

Kenyans wishing to take antibody tests privately may need to wait.

Lancet Pathologists said they have the capability but are waiting direction from the Ministry of Health.

“It is available at Lancet, but not yet offered to public as we are waiting for MoH to issue policy guideline on it,” CEO Dr Ahmed Kalebi told journalists.

According to the World Health Organization, it is uncertain whether individuals with antibodies are protected against reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19), and if so, what concentration of antibodies is needed to confer protection.

There is also a chance that there is only a weak connection, or no connection at all, between antibody presence in the blood and protection against SARS-CoV-2.

This is because antibodies in the blood will have to find their way to the respiratory system — where the virus resides — to exert their protective functions.

Sometimes they do not end up in the lungs where they are most needed for protection.

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He is a very dangerous man! Sonko’s daughter accuses senator of attempting to kill her



Lamu Senator Anwar Loitiptip and Saumu Mbuvi, daughter of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, have announced their separation following wrangles and disagreement.

The reports were fuelled by photos and videos of Senator Loitiptip hanging out with a female friend.

Saumu, on Instagram, announced that the two have separated, claiming that she has undergone domestic violence under Loitiptip.

“These are the things he did to me,” wrote Saumu, in one of her photos showing a swollen face and bruised lips.

“He almost killed me. I will forever fight for women to stand for their rights. Never allow a man to be violent to you.”

She also claimed that the senator had neglected their child, leaving Saumu as the primary caregiver.

Loitiptip told that Saumu shared her father’s traits and was suffering from bipolar disorder, threatening to expose her past to prove his claim.

The two have been dating for months and at one point planned to get married. However, Sonko’s daughter clarified that the two had split before officiating their union.

“Wedding date confirmed,” she captioned a picture of herself and the senator in June 2020.

Her previous relationship with businessman cum politician Ben Gatu also ended after she accused him of being violent.

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US raises alarm over Covid-19 cases surge in Tanzania



The US government has revealed that there are significant cases of Covid-19 in Tanzania.

This is just a week after it advised its citizens against travelling to the East African country.

“The US Embassy is aware of a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases since January 2021,” the Embassy said.

In a Health alert, the US said the practice of Covid-19 mitigation and prevention measures remains limited.

The Tanzanian government has not released aggregate numbers on Covid-19 cases or deaths since April 2020.

“Healthcare facilities in Tanzania can become quickly overwhelmed in a healthcare crisis. Limited hospital capacity throughout Tanzania could result in life-threatening delays for emergency medical care,” US said.

The Department of State’s travel advisory level for Tanzania is Level 3.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that travellers should avoid all travel to Tanzania.

The Embassy continues to recommend that all individuals take caution in day-to-day activities.

President John Magufuli assured the 58 million inhabitants that they need not worry about observing Covid-19 preventative measures.

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Siwachii wezi! Uhuru vows not to leave the country to thieves in 2022



President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday made a surprising stop to lecture Nairobi residents after finishing his engagement at the National Cargo Deconsolidation Centre (NCDC-Nairobi).

The Head of State said he was angry at Nairobians for being against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill stating that the report has given Nairobi more constituencies.

“If we have a BBI that says the people of Nairobi will have more constituencies and if it’s bursaries a child in Mathare who today receives Ksh500, how will that child study up to university level,” President Kenyatta said.

“But there is another child who gets Ksh100,000 in Busury per year is that right?… BBI is not for helping Raila or Uhuru it is for you,” he continued.

Uhuru went on to disclose that he has no plans to rule after his term is over and his interest is in finishing the job that Kenyans elected him to do.

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