TANZANIA – Tanzania has welcomed a delivery of one million Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 shots as part of a USA government donation after the African nation’s late president had long resisted accepting any doses.
The donation is part of the Biden administration’s commitment first announced last month to donate 25 million coronavirus shots abroad, partially through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX initiative.
“We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead the world in bringing an end to the pandemic,” Donald Wright, the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania said.
“Sharing these vaccines also serve as another example of the strength of our 60-year partnership and our commitment to Tanzania.”
Up until his death in March, Tanzanian President John Magufuli had repeatedly refused to accept vaccine donations, casting doubt on the severity of COVID-19, as well as the need for social distancing rules and mask mandates.
Things have since taken a different approach under President Samia Suluhu’s reign. According to the WHO, Tanzania as of Friday had recorded 609 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as 21 deaths, though experts have said that the actual numbers could be much higher.
Last month, the East African nation successfully joined the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) program.
While making the announcement, President Suluhu said experts in the country were working to establish the types of vaccines that would be allowed in the country and how they would be imported.
The head of state said a good number of international organizations have shown willingness to assist Tanzania in securing vaccines.
She said the government had set aside US$477 million for importing the vaccines and for bailing out sectors that have been most affected by the pandemic.
Yesterday, Tanzanian health authorities announced measures aimed at reinforcing precaution against COVID-19 amid a surge of cases in the third wave of the pandemic.
Abel Makubi, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, announced suspension of mass gatherings, including religious congregations and political rallies, until when the pandemic is controlled.
“When such gatherings are necessary to be held, permits should be secured from relevant authorities,” said the official.
He said the measures also include reinforcement of COVID-19 precautionary guidelines in bars, restaurants, meetings, weddings and ceremonial halls.
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