Tanzania ‘has no plans to receive vaccines for COVID-19,’ health minister says
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DODOMA, Tanzania, March 3, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The east African country of Tanzania is continuing its opposition to the global trend in responding to COVID-19. Tanzania’s health minister supported President John Magufuli’s opposition to the experimental vaccines.
Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima doubled down on President Magufuli’s opposition to the COVID-19 injections, saying the country would follow its own protocols when testing and administering medicines.
“The ministry has its own procedure on how to receive any medicines and we do so after we have satisfied ourselves with the product,” Gwajima said. “The ministry has no plans to receive vaccines for COVID-19,” she continued, before recommending more natural remedies for the virus, such as increased attention to personal hygiene, exercise, eating “nutritious food,” and drinking “plenty of water.”
Gwajima mentioned that there were natural treatments proved to be beneficial for treating the virus: “Through the Chief Government Chemist, the Ministry has been working to inspect a number of natural remedies that have met the safety standards for use, are already in use and they have helped Tanzanians, including me and my family.”
Recent data from COVAX (the international collaboration between Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) revealed that the experimental vaccines were being distributed to more than 130 countries, but Tanzania was not on the list — despite being eligible to receive the COVAX vaccines.
The health minister’s comments support Magufuli’s own words against the vaccines, as he has expressed deep suspicion about the injections. “If the white man was able to come up with vaccinations, then vaccinations for AIDS would have been brought, tuberculosis would be a thing of the past, vaccines for malaria and cancer would have been found,” he previously declared.
In a manner that has alarmed authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Magufuli has also refused to follow suit and shut the country down. While there was an initial closure affecting schools, sports, and the border, the country’s markets, businesses, and churches remained open in contrast to most other countries that reported the presence of the virus.
“We Tanzanians haven’t locked ourselves in and we don’t expect to lock ourselves down,” Magufuli said. “I don’t expect to announce any lockdown because our God is living and He will continue to protect Tanzanians.”
The country has not reported any information about COVID-19 to the WHO since April 29, 2020. On that day, 509 cases and 21 deaths were reported. In June, Magufuli declared that the country had eradicated the virus. He attributed the event to divine intervention, giving an address in a church in the capital of Dodoma, where he said, “I want to thank Tanzanians of all faiths. We have been praying and fasting for God to save us from the pandemic that has afflicted our country and the world. But God has answered us.”
Such a response has been termed “distressing” by medical journal The Lancet, and major news corporations have consistently employed a hostile tone when reporting on the decision to inflict relatively minor restrictions upon normal life and the economy.
Meanwhile, the WHO increased its pressure on the country to rejoin the fold and take part in the organization’s response to the infection. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued a statement “urging Tanzania to scale public health measures against COVID-19 and to prepare for vaccination.”
Describing the situation as “concerning,” he repeated his call for partaking in the global vaccination rollout, adding that Tanzania “implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission.” He did not mention which particular measures he believed would be effective in preventing the spread of infection.
One day after the Director-General’s statement, and following the death of Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, the first vice president of Zanzibar in Tanzania, Magufuli commented on the use of masks, still prioritizing “faith” as a response to the virus, but also advising people on which masks to wear. “I have not said people should not wear facemasks, don’t misquote me, however, some facemasks are substandard, if you have to wear them, please consider those locally made. Most people who have been affected are in urban areas. We will defeat this virus by faith.”
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