No evidence three presidents died because they refused vaccines for their nations

15 July 2021
What was claimed

The presidents of Haiti, Tanzania and Zambia died ‘unexpectedly’, and this is linked to the fact they refused the Covid-19 vaccines for their nations.

Our verdict

The president of Zambia did not refuse the vaccines, and died at age 97 of pneumonia. The president of Tanzania died of a heart condition. The president of Haiti was assassinated, but did not refuse the vaccinations.

A meme shared on Facebook features actor John Krasinski in The Office with a whiteboard with edited text, which says: “3 countries refused the covid vaccine”, followed by: “Now all 3 of their presidents have died unexpectedly”. Beneath the image are the names of the former presidents of Haiti (Jovenel Moïse), Tanzania (John Magufuli) and Zambia (Kenneth Kaunda). 

The posts suggest that the death of these three men is linked to a refusal of the Covid-19 vaccines. There is no evidence to support this claim. 

Haiti - Jovenel Moïse

Haiti is eligible for provision of Covid-19 vaccines through the Covax programme, but roll out has been slow, with Haiti yet to give any doses to residents, and only receiving its first vaccines this week.  

President Moïse did not explicitly refuse all of the Covid-19 vaccines, but the country did initially refuse the AstraZeneca vaccine due to safety concerns.  

There have also been administrative and supply difficulties around the arrival of vaccinations to Haiti, and concerns about the logistics of organising the vaccine roll out. 

Mr Moïse was fatally shot at home on 7 July 2021. Arrests have been made but there are still many unknown details about the assasination. There is no evidence to suggest that there is a link to the lack of progress made regarding Haiti’s vaccine roll out. 

Tanzania- John Magufuli 

President Magufuli reportedly said that home treatments such as steam inhalation were preferable to “dangerous foreign vaccines”, and in February 2021 the country’s health minister said that Tanzania had no plans to accept Covid-19 vaccines.  

Mr Magufuli’s successor,  president Samia Suluhu Hassan announced that the president’s death in March 2021 was due to heart disease. There is no evidence to suggest that the death was related to Mr Magufuli’s stance on the Covid-19 vaccines. 

There has been some speculation from Tanzanian opposition leaders, and on social media, that Mr Magufuli’s death may have been caused by Covid-19, however this has been discredited. 

Zambia - Kenneth Kaunda 

President Kaunda died of pneumonia at a military hospital in Lusaka in June 2021, age 97.

The president did not refuse the Covid-19 vaccines for Zambia. In fact, in March 2021, the Zambian health minister announced plans to vaccinate all over 18s in the country.

Similar claims have been fact checked before.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because there is no evidence of a link, there are other explanations for the deaths, and they did not all refuse the vaccines for their countries.

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