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Even myths and misinformation are opposed ...

Myths and models: What's driving vaccine hesitancy in Africa and how can we overcome it?

Adaeze Aroh Bola Asaolu Chioma T. Okafor. 07 Jun 2021


A paper appeared on Africa Portal in June addressing the problem of possible myths and essentially unfounded notions in the approach to vaccinations in Africa. Myths and beliefs add to the inability to produce vaccines locally or adequately purchase, despite the WHO's COVAX initiative.

Disinformation and misconceptions about vaccines have been a major barrier to spread around the world, but particularly on the African continent, where false messages and conspiracy theories that discourage the public from getting vaccinated are spreading rampant across platforms. social media and mobile like WhatsApp.

A survey conducted by the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 15 African countries detailed the need to increase confidence in COVID-19 vaccination on the continent. They interviewed more than 15,000 people with no vax responses ranging from 59% in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 94% in Ethiopia. Respondents provided several reasons for being reluctant to take the vaccine, including the belief that COVID-19 was a planned event by foreign and African actors used as guinea pigs for vaccine trials. It is important to note that vaccine hesitation is not a new phenomenon: during the resurgence of the wild poliovirus in northern Nigeria, religious leaders boycotted national immunization days organized as part of the global polio eradication initiative due to of rumors spread that  vaccines could be contaminated with anti-fertility agents, HIV and carcinogens. This has resulted in not only an increase in the incidence of polio in Nigeria, but also the onset of the disease on three continents.

Distrust of vaccines in Africa is not entirely out of place, as there has been a history of medical trials such as the Pfizer meningitis vaccine trial in Kano state, Nigeria. In South Africa, HIV vaccine trials were quickly halted in the early 2000s due to more recipients developing greater vulnerability to the disease.

In January 2021, the late President of Tanzania John Magufuli said: “Vaccines are not good. If they were, then the white man would have brought the HIV / AIDS vaccines. "

Many of the alleged myths can also be found in local European-Italian populations such as

  • Vaccines cause infertility in men and women

  • Several vaccines are being developed for Africa that encourage depopulation

  • In December 2020, a misleading video surfaced claiming that Bill Gates had funded vaccine innovation to forcibly vaccinate Africans in order to depopulate them.

  • An image of a box of medicines with a label saying "Not for distribution in the United States, Canada or the EU" was circulated on social media. It would only be given to Africans who were used as "experiments".

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is not safe because it was developed so quickly

  • The vaccine contains aborted fetuses.


To counter this disinformation and beliefs, in the article it is suggested to use campaigns that target the risks and serious complications of COVID 19 for individuals, while for groups, indications are given on how to choose informed and trained groups, to be involved in awareness campaigns. at a very peripheral level. As well as the ad hoc information and training of all health personnel, starting with Community Nurses. Public-private partnership initiatives such as the one between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Journalist are no longer excluded (Journalist Initiatives on Polio Immunization (JAP) in Nigeria should be formed. At EU level, African government leaders they should adopt the lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak, engage community leaders, and solicit community input to develop social mobilization campaigns to increase communities' understanding of the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine.

An extremely acceptable conclusion:

If vaccines were produced in Africa, fear of Western influences or unknown ingredients would be largely dispelled and the cost and dependence on Western countries for vaccine procurement would be greatly reduced.


The problem of vaccines not available to everyone for commercial and selfish reasons is well known, the feedback can be found in the press and on the web in many versions.


The recurring reason is the rejection of a few wealth-accumulating groups, such as BIG-Pharma & company, which take advantage of the misfortunes of the poor.

An analysis conducted by the “People's Vaccine Alliance” estimates an average production cost of Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech's anti-Covid-19 serum of just over two dollars. But the two companies sell the doses at prices up to 24 times higher than the cost of production. By draining public resources in rich countries and limiting access to vaccines in poorer ones.


The current state of vaccinations in Africa sees a percentage of 11,% of people reached, but this figure does not explain well the chasm of difference: In Morocco we are 111.3% people while in Tanzania only 0.7% have been vaccinated. South Africa accounts for 29%.


To keep track of the vaccination status in Africa go to the site:

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