Tanzania: President criticised for Covid-19 lockdown, vaccine comments

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Tanzania President John Magufuli has drawn criticisms from opposition groups and international health officials over his comments related to lockdowns and vaccines against Covid-19.

In a speech on Wednesday, the Tanzanian leader rejected the idea of lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus and questioned the effectiveness of vaccines. His comments drew sharp criticism from opposition groups in the country and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged Tanzania to step up its health measures to prevent a devastating outbreak in the country.

Magufuli questions lockdowns, Covid-19 vaccines

During his speech, President John Magufuli claimed people should resist calls for vaccination, claiming they’re dangerous. The president went on to claim that Tanzanians vaccinated overseas had brought a variant back to the country and reiterated his stance that Tanzania is being protected by God from the virus.

He also argued that global health efforts would have developed for vaccines for AIDS, malaria, cancer and several other conditions if an effective Covid-19 jab truly exists.

Opposition groups in the country slammed the president’s comments for sending out confusing messages to Tanzania’s and the wider world. The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti also urged the country to ramp up public health measures, reminding Magufuli that science shows several available vaccines work.

Tanzania’s government stopped reporting Covid-19 cases in May 2020 when it had 509 confirmed infections and 21 deaths.

Featured image: “PM Narendra Modi with President of Tanzania, John Magufuli” flickr photo by narendramodiofficial https://flickr.com/photos/narendramodiofficial/28176596672 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.