DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — Tanzania on Saturday received its first batch of 1 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines donated by the U.S. government.
Tanzania had been among the few countries in Africa yet to receive vaccines or start inoculating its population, mainly because its former leader had claimed prayer had defeated COVID-19 in the country.
The vaccines were received by Foreign Affairs Minister Liberata Mulamula and the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, Donald Wright, at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
Former Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who died in March, had refused to accept vaccines after he claimed three days of prayer had healed the country of the virus in June 2020.
Magufuli, 61, was among the world’s most prominent skeptics of COVID-19. Though his official cause of death was reported to be cardiac arrest, Magufuli’s critics believe he died of COVID-19.
Magufuli’s deputy, Samai Suluhu Hassan, took over as president in line with the country’s constitution and became the first female president in Tanzania.
Hassan has reversed Tanzania’s practice of denying COVID-19’s spread in the East African country.