As Ghana leads Africa in Covid-19 vaccine, Tanzania’s fate remains unknown

Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima

AS Tanzanians, on instruction from their president, keep relying on herbal concoction in the battle against COVID-19, and as President John Magufuli still rejects vaccine from “the white man,” Ghana has become the first African country to receive the Corona vaccines consignment.

The first shipment of free COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organization (WHO) – backed Covax Facility – landed in Ghana on yesterday, marking the beginning of what is shaping up to be the biggest vaccination drive in history aimed at developing countries.

SAUTI KUBWA understands that the first shipment will target 18 countries including Ghana, Rwanda na Cote d’Ivoire.

The delivery, consisting of 600,000 doses of a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca company and produced by the Serum Institute of India, was greeted by senior Ghanaian government officials at Kotoka International Airport in the capital, Accra.

The doses will be enough to vaccinate some 300,000 healthcare and front-line workers in Ghana, the West African country of around 31 million people.

Tanzania has become the only country in Africa that is so far rejecting any scientifically developed vaccines and medical trials of fighting Coronavirus. So, it will not benefit from the free vaccines’ programs – at least for now.

 The Magufuli government says it has no plans in place to accept COVID-19 vaccines – free or paid for.

Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima told a press conference in the capital, Dodoma, last week that “the ministry has no plans to receive vaccines for COVID-19.” 

She insisted Tanzania was safe. Interestingly, though, during a presentation in which she and other officials didn’t wear face masks, she encouraged the public to wear home-made face masks, to improve hygiene practices including the use of sanitizers and steam inhalation. The latter has been dismissed by health experts on the grounds that it is not a scientifically proven effective way of killing them coronavirus.

In April 2020, Tanzania stopped releasing official COVID-19 statistics. By then, there had been 509 positive cases, 21 deaths, and 183 recoveries—a figure officially unchanged to date.

In June, President John Magufuli declared the country free from COVID-19 after three days f prayers.

Matshidiso Moeti, the head of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, has encouraged Tanzania to prepare for the vaccine, to put in place the preventive measures to protect its population, and to share data on the COVID-19 situation with WHO and neighboring countries.

“Science shows that vaccines work”, Moeti has said.

(Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima)