Church in Kenya stands by controversial vaccine

A tetanus vaccine condemned as a population control tool is safe, according to a team of experts appointed by Kenya’s Minister for Health and the Catholic Church. 

The joint commission was set up in November after Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi and President of Kenya’s bishops’ conference, met with representatives of the Ministry of Health. 

The meeting was arranged after bishops addressed the parliamentary health committee saying that private laboratory tests found the vaccine contained a birth control hormone called beta human chorionic gonadotropin (b-HCG). Paul Kariuki, Bishop of Embu and chairman of the bishops’ health committee, called on all Kenyans to avoid vaccination, saying it was “a disguised population control programme”. 

In response at the time, UNICEF’s Dr Peter Okoth said these were “serious allegations” and that WHO and UNICEF ensured the quality of products before their distribution. He questioned the validity of the bishops’ tests, saying they were conducted using inappropriate equipment, and added: “I don’t think there is any laboratory in Kenya that has the capacity to test this vaccine.”

Now, however, following tests in Kenya and Germany, the commission agrees that while preliminary results in Kenya confirmed that three of 59 tested vials contained b-HCG, all other vials tested negative. No sealed samples contained b-HCG, whereas all three vials containing the hormone were supplied as open vials, having previously been examined, raising questions about contamination.

Some further testing is needed, but final results will be made public as soon as both laboratories submit their findings.