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Photo Anadolu Agency The Tanzanian president’s remarks that COVID-19 vaccines are “dangerous” have outraged people, who are criticizing him for contradicting the global scientific consensus. “John Magufuli is spreading misinformation and wild conspiracy theories that put Tanzanian lives at risk,” said Rainer Ebert, a research fellow at the University of Montreal, who has lived and taught in the East African country. As the world banks on vaccines to overcome a pandemic that has killed more than 2.1 million people, President Magufuli questioned their efficacy and urged Tanzanians to use domestic measures such as steam inhalation, which he claims can instantly kill the virus. Magufuli also raised doubts over the global push for developing COVID-19 vaccines, claiming that similar efforts have failed to cure other diseases. “Vaccinations are dangerous. If white people were able to come up with vaccinations, a vaccination for HIV/AIDS would have been found, a vaccination for tuberculosis could have eliminated it by now,” he said on Wednesday. He warned Tanzania’s health authorities against blindly procuring vaccines developed abroad. President Magufuli has previously mocked people for wearing masks and following social distancing rules. The country also halted COVID-19 testing last year after he derided kits made in China that allegedly returned positive results on goat and pawpaw fruit samples. Following his latest comments, Matshidiso Moeti, Africa regional director for the World Health Organization (WHO), called on Tanzanian authorities to ramp up public health measures, such as wearing masks, to curb the spread of COVID-19. “Vaccines work and I encourage the government to prepare for COVID-19 vaccination campaign. WHO is here to support the government and people of Tanzania,” she said on Twitter. - Kizito Makoye, Anadolu Agency

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