In a report released Monday, a national committee urged Tanzania to disclose COVID-19 cases to the World Health Organization and join the COVAX Facility — which is aimed at equitable vaccine access globally — to obtain free doses.
In early April, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced the formation of an expert committee to evaluate the nation’s COVID-19 response, following a year of denial, misinformation, and a lack of transparency from the government led by then-President John Magufuli. He died in March, with suspicions that he succumbed to the coronavirus.
The country has not reported any COVID-19 figures since May 2020, leaving the total count at 509 cases and 21 deaths, which WHO called “very concerning” in February. In the report submitted to Hassan, the committee said that the country has gone through two major waves of the pandemic and that it is vulnerable to a third. The committee called on the government to report accurate information about the pandemic to both its citizens and WHO.
While the country is eligible for free vaccines from COVAX, Magufuli’s administration took no steps to receive doses and warned the population about being used as “guinea pigs” for vaccination. The committee advised Tanzania to submit the necessary documentation to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to start receiving doses.
The committee also called on Hassan to strengthen COVID-19 prevention efforts, comply with international resolutions, strengthen diagnostic capacity, finalize a COVID-19 treatment guide for health workers, use traditional medicines only if they are proven by science, update disaster response plans, and work to establish domestic vaccine manufacturing facilities.