Zanzibar Aims to Vaccinate 87% of Population as Denialism Eases

Tanzania’s semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar aims to inoculate about 1.4 million people against Covid-19, pulling ahead of the mainland as it seeks to save its tourism-reliant economy.

Children as young as 10 years will be eligible for the injections in the islands of 1.6 million people, Health Minister Nassor Ahmed Mazrui said by phone. Zanzibar is working with an advisory committee appointed by Tanzanian President Samia Hassan to determine which vaccines should be procured, he said, without explaining what the mainland’s plans were or how the region would acquire vaccines when pharmaceutical companies usually only negotiate with national governments.

The shots will be administered depending on their availability and funding, he said. Tanzania’s government downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic for about a year, but has taken some steps to procure vaccines since the death of former President John Magufuli in March. Still the country remains one of three in Africa that has yet to vaccinate anyone.

Tanzania submitted a formal request to the Covax vaccine sharing facility for inoculations this month. It also asked the International Monetary Fund for $571 million last month to help the economy recover from effects of the pandemic.

To move ahead with the talks, the IMF will require the East African country to publish data on coronavirus infections and deaths, which it hasn’t done since May 2020 during the reign of Magufuli, who asked Tanzanians to avoid masks and use traditional remedies to treat the disease.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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