Africa

WHO: Tanzania to request to join COVAX vaccine-sharing facility

A pack of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines is seen as the country receives its first batch of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines under COVAX scheme, at the international airtport of Accra, Ghana February 24, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko/File Photo

Tanzania plans to request to join the COVAX global vaccine-sharing facility, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday, the latest sign of the country’s change of tack following the death of its COVID-19 sceptic president in March.

Former President John Magufuli had underplayed the pandemic and expressed scepticism of vaccines, but his successor Samia Suluhu Hassan has sought to gradually bring the country into line with global public standards for tackling COVID-19.

The nation of more than 58 million people is one of just four African countries that have yet to start vaccination campaigns, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have received information that Tanzania is now formally working to join the COVAX facility,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, told a news conference.

Tanzanian authorities were not immediately reachable for comment.

In another indication of the country’s new approach, its finance minister said last week that the government has asked the International Monetary Fund for a $571 million loan to help it tackle the challenges caused by the pandemic.

Tanzania stopped reporting COVID-19 cases and deaths in May 2020 and despite other policy changes by the new president, has not resumed reporting data.

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