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China Suspicion, ‘Foreign Plot’ Fears Hamper Africa Vaccine Plan

  • Distrust of government, conspiracies slow African takeup
  • Slow vaccination campaign may hinder recovery, breed variants
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Fears Hamper Africa Vaccine Plan

As if the struggle to secure its meager supplies of Covid-19 vaccines wasn’t bad enough, Africa is now having a hard time getting people to take them. Only 5.22 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have been vaccinated, a region with a population of about a billion.

From suspicions about Chinese-made vaccines in Zimbabwe and conspiracy theories in Ivory Coast about Covid-19 being “a planned event by foreign actors” to Somalia, where the Islamist militant Al-Shabaab group is warning people they’re “guinea pigs” for AstraZeneca, large sections of Africans are steering clear of vaccines. Only about 17.5% of the doses available in Ivory Coast and 19% in Zimbabwe have found their way into arms. Already lagging behind the rest of the world in its inoculations, the wave of vaccine skepticism -- made worse by a lack of trust in local governments and misinformation on social media -- threatens to put the continent even further behind.