Health experts in Kenya have revealed that up to 75 per cent of Kenyans have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The study said that most Kenyans had been exposed to the virus due to poor adherence to the public health guidelines and the spread of new virus variants.
The study was done by scientists from the Ministry of Health and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust.
Failure to follow guidelines
“The most plausible explanation for the case pattern and seroprevalence is due to a combination of differential adherence to the 2020 health measures followed by a sharp increase in the transmissibility of the virus in 2021,” The study said.
“This is consistent with that observed in the other countries affected by the variants of concern, e.g India and the United Kingdom.”
The study revealed that exposure to the virus did not necessarily mean that one was infected. Instead, it meant that one was within six feet of someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 had stayed for at least 15 minutes with the infected person. This is regardless of whether one or both people were wearing face masks.
Among the authors of the papers were Health Director-General Patrick Amoth, both Health CASs, Dr Rashid Aman and Mercy Mwangangi. Scientists from Kemri included Edwin Barasa, Lynette Ochola-Oyier and George Warimwe.
New variants concern
The authors said that new variants with higher transmissibility would likely drive the fourth wave in Kenya in 2021.
“A fourth wave of COVID-19 before the end of 2021 would only be possible if a variant with substantial enhancement in transmissibility or immunity escape,” they said, giving examples of the Delta variant.
The waning of previous immunity could also drive up infections and lead to a fourth wave.
Dr Ahmed Kalebi, a Pathologist at Lancet Kenya, called on the Ministry to conduct antibody tests to find the rate of previous infections. Previous infections result in natural immunity. Such a move, he said, would inform the targeted containment strategies.