While the United States, Norway, and China all suffer major death blows from COVID-19, Tanzania, a country that shunned vaccines, lockdowns, and even mask mandates, has one of the lowest death rates in COVID-19 history. With a country of 62 million people, their total Coronavirus deaths have been just 734. Not 734,000, not 73,400, not even 7,340. Just 734 deaths, marking a fatality rate that is astronomically low.
Initially, the country spurned vaccines entirely, calling them “untested” and “experimental” under the leadership of then-president John Magufuli, who died in March due to heart complications that had plagued him for a decade. Under Magufuli’s leadership, the borders weren’t even shut down. The most invasive procedure was requiring a COVID test 72 hours before flying in and passing a rapid test and temperature screening upon arrival. He did not mandate masks or self-isolation and even told the press not to fear-monger about the virus.
But perhaps his strangest response to COVID-19 was his health remedy for the virus: a smoothie. The former president would be seen drinking a special smoothie of ginger, lemon, and other herbs while inhaling steam on camera. The president claimed this prevented COVID-19. It seemed whatever the rest of the world proposed, he did the polar opposite. And it worked. Tanzania has no epidemic of cases, no mountain of deaths, and no fear-mongering in the media. It is, for all intents and purposes, a COVID-19 low-case utopia.
Now, however, the new leadership is rolling out a vaccine campaign. Though it isn’t mandatory, some wonder just what the point of the campaign is, considering the country has extremely low rates of both infections and deaths. While it remains to be seen if the special smoothie and steam inhalations truly did anything to prevent the virus, at minimum the Omicron and Delta variants have clearly shown the vaccine does not.
Regardless, even under the new leadership, the borders are not sealed off, they have not called for lockdowns, neither built COVID internment camps like in Australia and Washington in the United States, and also have not issued vaccine mandates for even high-priority individuals. The vaccine is completely voluntary for everyone, regardless of occupation, social status, or risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
And yet, even with this lax approach while countries fear the Omicron variant, Tanzania still retains significantly low infections and deaths. Their death rate has climbed a grand total of 20 deaths in the last two-and-a-half months. Even before, between May 2020 and August 2021, the country saw a grand total of just 414 deaths from the virus. Even Norway, a country deemed as an example for following all the pandemic advice of lockdowns, vaccination programs, and more, has 3x as many deaths as this African country, at 1,202. Not to mention, Norway is currently in the midst of their worst COVID-19 spike since the onset of the pandemic.
Of course, Tanzania isn’t the only country that skirted lockdowns and resulted with few deaths. Both Mali and Tajikistan are two countries that, according to Financial Times, had the least stringent COVID-19 restrictions in the world. According to Worldmeters, Mali clocks in at just 634 deaths and Tajikistan significantly lower at just 134 deaths. Eritrea, another country with extremely lax government restrictions, also clocks in at just 65 COVID deaths. Indeed, a chart comparing the COVID deaths between the three countries and Norway (the supposed “success story”) shows a similar theme. Doing nothing trumped doing everything by volumes.
As the three-year anniversary of the COVID pandemic approaches this December, it remains clear which countries have truly won out in the war against the virus, the ones that largely left it alone. The countries that avoided government interventionism seemed to have won out in the war on the virus.
– John Paluska, CNJ Staff