By Egide Lucky
Over 2 million doses of covid-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in Burundi at the end of October 2021. The ministry of public health says vaccination will be voluntary.
“Burundi has accepted a donation of 2,400,000 doses of covid-19 vaccines by the World Bank. First doses shall arrive in Burundi from 25th October to mid-November,” said Thaddée Ndikumana, Minister of Public Health on 7th October.
He also said that countries like Belgium, France and Serbia have promised to donate covid-19 vaccines to Burundi: “China has also promised 500,000 doses of vaccines.”
The minister mentioned that places and dates for vaccination will be communicated to the public in two weeks. “We have appointed logistic commissions that will be in charge of vaccines deployment and staff training. They will also design a communication plan regarding the vaccination process,” he said.
According to him, the vaccination will be voluntary. He made it clear that whoever may need to take the vaccine’s jab will have to sign an agreement form.
“The government can’t bring vaccines which can endanger people’s lives. It is responsible for the public health,” he added without specifying the kind of vaccine Burundi will receive.
Thaddée Ndikumana called on population to respect barrier measures and keep doing covid-19 screening. He reminded that Burundi is one of the rare countries where covid-19 test and treatment are free of charge for all citizens.
Since March 2020 when first cases were reported in Burundi, the government has been criticized for downplaying the pandemic.
The former president of Burundi late Pierre Nkurunziza minimized the gravity of the pandemic as he kept saying that God had protected the country from it.
After he swore in as president, Nkurunziza’s successor Evariste Ndayishimiye declared covid-19 “the biggest enemy” of Burundi.
In February 2021, the Burundian minister of public health Thaddée Ndikumana said that the country did not need covid-19 vaccines. On 4th February, he told reporters that “since more than 95% of patients recover from the virus, we estimate that vaccines are not yet necessary”.
The government of Burundi had waited until July 2021 to finally accept coronavirus vaccines. However, it has refrained from assuming responsibility for side effects of the vaccines.