Saturday, May 8, 2021

Covid-19 denial a fly in the ointment for herd immunity goal?

Tanzania's government has insisted the country is free from Covid-19 so there is little testing and no plans for vaccinations.

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There are suggestions that the idea of herd immunity through vaccinating a large percentage of the world’s population, is not a realistic strategy given different vaccination speeds in different areas of the world, the BBC is reporting.

Indeed, in the case of Tanzania, whose president has advocated steam inhalation as a treatment for Covid-19, there may never be widespread vaccinations.

Instead of herd immunity, the chances are that countries will move to a multi-layered approach of continued testing, biosafety measures, exposure notifications and vaccinations but only where national governments agree that there is a problem.

The BBC has reported that Tanzania’s government has insisted the country is free from Covid-19 – so there is little testing and no plans for vaccination.

Even though people have died in Tanzania with all the symptoms of Covid, the fear is that amid the denial, there are many more unacknowledged victims.

An unknown number of Tanzanian families have lost members to Covid-like illness but have chosen not to speak out, fearing retribution from the government.

It is nearly impossible to gauge the true extent of the virus and only a small number of people are officially allowed to talk about the issue.

President John Magufuli has mocked the efficacy of masks, and teased neighbouring countries which have imposed health measures to curb the virus.

He has also warned that Covid-19 vaccines could be harmful and has been urging Tanzanians to instead use steam inhalation and herbal medicines.

He has often cast himself as standing up to Western imperialism and recently said that Tanzanians should not be used as “guinea pigs”.

“If the white man was able to come up with vaccinations, he should have found a vaccination for AIDS, cancer and TB by now,” he said.

Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima has told Tanzanians, “We must improve our personal hygiene, wash hands with running water and soap, use handkerchiefs, herbal steam, exercise, eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, and use natural remedies that our nation is endowed with.”

These precautions are not needed because the virus is in the country. Tanzanians have to be prepared, she said, because the virus is “ravaging” neighbouring countries.

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