“There comes a Time when One Must take a Position that is neither Safe nor Politic nor Popular but he Must take it because his Conscience tells him it is Right”-Martin Luther King Junior.
Dr. John Pombe Magufuli; the President of Tanzania seems to have exactly taken this Position in his Response to a Virus that has literally brought the entire World to its Knees; Corona Virus Pandemic. President Magufuli who holds a PHD in Chemistry has taken this Position from a Point of Scientific Finding, Rationale and Religious Intervention.
His deepest Conviction to the Position he has taken came early on May when Samples collected from a Goat, a Pawpaw Fruit and a Bird then sent to a COVID19 Laboratory in Tanzania disguised as Samples from Human Beings Tested Positive for the Corona Virus. Other Samples from a Sheep and another from Engine Oil turned Negative, one from a Jackfruit turned Inconclusive with another one from a Rabbit turning out Indeterminate. This damning Flaw led to the Suspension of the Country’s Head of Laboratory. Further testing of COVID-19 was also suspended and the Country has not given a Status Update since April 29th when the Country had reported 509 Cases and 21 Deaths.
The President also declared 3 Days of National Prayer on April 17th .After these 2 Events; President Magufuli declared the defeat of Corona Virus. He called on the People of Tanzania to continue with their Lives as they did before the Outbreak albeit with subtle Vigilance. The President has categorically disregarded and refrained from making some key Responses being made against the Virus across the World like imposing Lockdowns, Border Closures, Curfews, Banning Social Gatherings, encouraging Social distancing and the wearing of Face Masks.
He is actually on record making mockery of the use of Lockdowns and Face Masks .On April he went on record cautioning Tanzanians and the Country’s Ministry of Health against the use of Face masks from Foreign Donors whose Intention behind such Donation they don’t know. He said some of those Face Masks have been found to be laced with the Virus itself. On May he said those Country’s that have imposed Lockdowns will have a Serious Food Shortage Next Year since their People have stopped being Productive. He said such a Time will be an Opportune Moment for Tanzania to help them with Food. In his most recent Address on July 20th Magufuli reiterated that “Tanzania is safe and that is why none of us here is wearing a Face Mask;Corona Virus has been eliminated”. President Magufuli says Corona Virus is a War like many other Wars across the World.
The Mystery of Corona Virus
As it is; Corona Virus is not just a Pandemic or a global Health Crisis; It is equally a global Mystery and Misery. That up to this moment in time Scientists have not been able to unravel the Origin or Source of the Virus and how it got to Humanity, Its Cure/Treatment is a Reason enough for Anyone to have an Opinion, Inference or take a Position like the one taken by President Magufuli.
That we are in a Time of War and this Virus is a Bioweapon made in a Laboratory as we have all heard in the bitter ongoing Accusations over the Virus Origin and its Laboratory Conspiracies between China where it said to have originated and the USA-now the Worst-hit Country is a Possibility that cannot be ruled out. The Chinese Government is under fire especially from the USA for allegedly covering up the Virus Outbreak and unleashing it to the World.
The sequence of Response right at Get-go to now the Advisory on how it’s contracted and spread, Testing, Precautionary Measures, Mitigation, Medication/Therapeutics and Management of this Disease by the World Health Organization and other Health Regulatory Bodies has been severely Criticized, Questioned and put to to test and Interrogation. An Independent, Impartial and Comprehensive Inquiry on W.H.O.’s International Response to this Pandemic established on May is Underway. The US has officially began the Process of Withdrawing itself from the WHO over how it managed this Outbreak from its Start sometimes at the end of 2019. The Withdrawal of the US from W.H.O is likely to see dire Paralysis if not Collapse of this Global Health Institution; the US is by far its biggest Funder. The US President has repeatedly said the WHO was biased and it thus bungled its Response letting what they had the Power to Contain run out of Control to become what it is Today.
Most recently the Number of Confirmed Cases and Deaths globally has also been questioned. Pundits have said the actual Numbers could be 10 Times high while some Critics have argued that No single Death can be directly attributed to the Virus. Nothing really seems to be Certain about this Pandemic and as such Anything could be Certain about it.
The Fanciful Optimism on the Vaccine’s Way
On April 23th the WHO Director General said that “Our Global Connectedness means the Risk of Re-introduction and Resurgence of COVID-19 will Continue. Ultimately, the development and delivery of a safe and effective Vaccine will be Needed to fully Interrupt Transmission”. As to whether the World will get a Vaccine for this Virus the Answer is Yes. With at least 165 Vaccine Candidates across the World, 27 of them already in various Stages of Clinical Trials; Ultimately the World shall for sure have a Vaccine or even Vaccines for this Virus. Big and Fundamental Questions on possible COVID_19 Vaccine (s) however remain Undetermined. Will a Vaccine really be the Panacea to completely bring this Pandemic to an End? There is no known Vaccine with 100 Efficacy and Effectiveness; Corona Virus Vaccine is highly unlikely to make History as One with such Efficacy. Will we really get a Vaccine that can generate Lifelong Immune Response/Sterilizing Immunity to COVID-19 or will this end up being a Case of Regular Vaccination and Re-Vaccination against the Virus? How safe will such a Vaccine be? the Speed at which the Vaccines are being developed casts huge doubts over their Effectiveness and Safety.
The Mumps Vaccine for instance was developed within a period of 4 Years and it’s the fastest developed and approved Vaccine. That Scientists are determined to develop a Vaccine for nearly 8 Billion People and have it Approved in about 12 Months is a Matter of some great Concern. Throughout History, Development and Approval of Vaccines are known to take up to 15 Years. Again who will be Vaccinated first? the Logistics of Producing, Distributing and Vaccinating 7.8 Billion People are Mind-boggling. What Guarantee is there that this Virus will not have Mutated by the time we have an Approved Vaccine for it ready for distribution?
Another Hurdle in the way of a COVID-19 Vaccine is the heated Politics, Half-Truths, Propaganda and Conspiracy around those who are developing and Funding the development of a Vaccine and this has already started. The ongoing Clinical Trials have faced and are facing Strong Resistance in some Quarters over alleged Conspiracies. A Vaccine for the entire World shall surely be met by intense Interrogation, Debate, Propaganda, Concerns, Conspiracy Theories and Politicization.
On August 3,the W.H.O Director General Dr.Tedros said that a Number of Vaccines are now in phase Three Clinical Trials and that we all hope to have a number of Effective Vaccines that can help prevent People from Infection. He however admitted that there is No Silver Bullet and there might Never be.
So will a Corona Virus Vaccine (s) Eliminate Corona Virus?; the Answer is arguably NO. What such a Vaccine (s) will do is to Stop further Escalation of Corona Virus Pandemic; It’s Prevalence, Morbidity, Mortality and Fatality; If this luckily becomes the Case; It can and shall only happen over Time not Immediately as the General Public has been made to believe.
Back to Magufuli’s Approach
Why is President Magufuli’s Unconventional hence Controversial Approach to COVID-19 Pandemic likely to Vindicate him Eventually?
Words alone cannot express the Toll and Damage COVID-19 Pandemic has Occasioned on the World’s Economic, Social and Cultural Life. This Pandemic has literally brought the World to its Knees, Subjugating One of the most advanced Human Civilization the World has ever seen.
From afar; President Magufuli’s Approach to COVID-19 seems Ignorant but it’s actually Not. The President and the Country’s Ministry of Health do Acknowledge the Reality of Corona Virus and the Dangers it Poses to the Country and its People. The President is on Record telling his People to continue observing Anti-COVID19 Precautions while his Government continues working to bring the Outbreak under Control. On April and May President Magufuli told the Country that the Plague of COVID-19 is going down though it’s not completely under Control. He talked of decreased Hospitalization and Recoveries. He urged Tanzanians to continue Praying and Observing all the Precautions and Advise from Medical Authorities.
President Magufuli maintains that a Sovereign Country like Tanzania cannot allow itself to be Ruled or Controlled by Corona Virus. He said the Country has had to deal with other Viruses in the Past, they did Overcome them and Corona Virus is no different and Life must go on. He noted that Fear and Anxiety around COVID19 is worse than the Virus itself. He urged Tanzanians not to instill Fear into each other.
BASICALLY: by not declaring a State of Emergency, putting Tanzania and Tanzanians into Lockdown, Closures, Curfews, Cessations of Movement and Businesses, Stringent Restrictions on Socio-Economic and Cultural Life; President Magufuli simply wanted the People of Tanzania to calmly at their own pace; acknowledge the Reality of Corona Virus as any other Disease Outbreak in the past that would probably strike and linger on for a forseeable Future.
His Unconventional yet Composed Approach has helped Tanzania avoid the Devastating Toll and Effects the Virus has had on the Economic, Social and Cultural Life of other Nations who took a Disruptive Dire Emergency kind of Approach to the Outbreak.
Some Social Issues Pundits across the World have argued that the World Overreacted to COVID-19 Outbreak blowing it out of Proportion to the Point of making it a Global Pandemic. Observing all the current Precautions plus those expected to come should the W.H.O declare COVID-19 as an Airborne Disease as per the recent Recommendation from some 239 Global Scientists; It would Literally would mean stopping Life and Living as we know it and that is Unthinkable.
With the Current Projections, Hypothesis and Revelations; That the Virus was already circulating across the World way before the first Case was officially Reported. That the actual Number of Cases in each Country are over 10 Times higher than those Reported or Confirmed. That Millions especially the Young and Healthy Population have probably caught the Virus and beat it without Diagnosis and any form of Treatment. That over Half of Global reported Cases have fully Recovered. That over 80% of reported Deaths are People who had Pre-existing Health Problems or Comorbidity. These among many other Revelations and Emerging Evidence clearly indicate that Corona Virus is a Disease that we should have Calmly learnt to Live with; a Disease that we might eventually learn to live with while protecting our most Vulnerable Demographics or those who are at a Risk of getting a Severe form of this Disease. This without Unnecessarily disrupting Life and Living like we have done; This as we wait and hope for an effective Vaccine and Therapeutics to Combat and Possibly Eliminate it.
AS TO WHETHER; President Magufuli’s Unconventional Approach to COVID-19 will Successfully Stand the Test of Time with its Costs; It’s a Matter of Wait and See.
AS TO WHETHER; the Disruptive, Stringent Dire Emergency Approach to COVID-19 taken by very many Countries across the World will Prove to have been Prudent with its Costs; It’s also a Matter of Wait and See!.