Burundi, Tanzania excluded from the WHO’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to African countries

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has excluded Burundi and Tanzania from the list of African countries set to receive COVID-19 vaccines through its COVAX scheme.

The global health body aims to start shipping about 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Africa in February, and the list of countries that will receive them, together with their respective quotas have already been decided.

Nearly 320,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been allocated to four African nations, including Cape Verde, Rwanda, South Africa and Tunisia, WHO said in a statement.

The rollout of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is subject to the listing of the vaccine for emergency use by the UN agency.

However, earlier this week, Tanzania indicated it had no plans to accept COVID-19 vaccines after President John Magufuli expressed reservations about them.

Magufuli declared that COVID-19 has been defeated in his East African country, attributing it to God’s help, even when the WHO urged cooperation from the government.

The health minister of Burundi, a landlocked country in East Africa, said his country was more concerned with prevention measures, according to local media.

“Since more than 95% of patients are recovering, we estimate that the vaccines are not yet necessary,” local media reported, quoting Health Minister Thaddee Ndikumana as saying.

Burundi’s land and water borders remain closed. The county has registered more than 1,600 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Some 60% vaccination is needed to achieve herd immunity in Africa’s 54 countries, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the continent reached 3.6 million as of Friday, while the death toll stood at 93,647, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Brian Kithinji
Brian Kithinji is a journalist with over four years experience reporting on various topics across the African continent. Join him in exploring an evolving Africa through extensive contextualization and deep analysis.