Tanzanian President Cautions Against Coronavirus Vaccines

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, the only African leader to claim there’s no Covid-19 in his country, publicly cautioned the Health Ministry against vaccines and said it shouldn’t rush into any experiments.

“We should be very careful,” Magufuli said in a speech from his rural home in Chato, near Lake Victoria, broadcast on state TV. “Not everything we receive from outside is in our best interest.”

Tanzania stopped publishing coronavirus data in April last year and is now one of a few countries in the world that doesn’t publish any information on the outbreak. Authorities actively discourage the use of face masks, saying the country is free of the disease.

While that’s helped boost tourist arrivals to the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar during the festive season, the leader of the main opposition Chadema party, Freeman Mbowe, has described the administration’s silence as “stupidity.”

‘Pray to God’

The World Health Organization would like Tanzania to consider vaccines “for the sake of people in the country, for the sake of people of neighboring countries and for the sake of the world,” its regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said in a briefing Thursday.

Magufuli said some citizens had traveled to other countries to receive shots but had returned with a “strange virus.”

“We will continue to take the necessary health precautions, including steam therapy, while we pray to our God,” he said, referring to one of the preventative measures Tanzanians have been using to ward off the disease.

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