FACT CHECK: Were These World Leaders Assassinated After Pledging To Permanently Bar COVID-19 Vaccines From Their Countries?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Instagram claims several world leaders proclaimed COVID-19 vaccines would not be allowed in their respective countries and were later assassinated.

Verdict: Misleading

Not all the leaders mentioned in the post opposed COVID-19 vaccines. Only one of them, late Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated.

Fact Check:

The image shared on Instagram includes photos of Moïse, late Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, late Ivory Coast Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko, Eswatini’s late Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini and the late Tanzanian President John Magufuli.

“The Presidents of Burundi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Ivory Coast & now Haiti have all been assasinated (sic) over (sic) past few months,” reads text included in the image. “The fake news media refuse to cover it. All 5 Presidents said the covid ‘vaccine’ would NEVER be allowed in their country.”

Only one of the five deceased leaders, Moïse, was actually assassinated. A group of gunmen attacked his residence and shot him to death in July, The New York Times reported. The other four leaders mentioned in the post died from medical complications.

The Burundian government stated Nkurunziza died at one of the country’s hospitals after experiencing cardiac arrest on June 8, 2020. Many people have speculated that COVID-19 was the true cause of his death, The Guardian reported. Bakayoko lost his life to cancer in Germany on March 10, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara announced. Dlamini reportedly died of COVID-19 on Dec. 13, 2020, in South Africa, according to Bloomberg.

Differing claims have been made about the cause of Magufuli’s death. His successor, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, said he passed away due to heart failure at a hospital in Tanzania on March 17, according to CNN. However, opposition party leader Tundu Lissu alleged he died of COVID-19 earlier that month, the outlet reported.

While there is some debate as to what caused the deaths of Nkurunziza and Magufuli, the uncertainty revolves around whether COVID-19 was a factor, not whether they were murdered. Check Your Fact found no credible news reports contending that either was assassinated.

The notion that all of these men opposed COVID-19 vaccinations in their countries is also misleading. (RELATED: Did Haitian President Jovenel Moïse Say He Would Expose The Clinton Foundation The Day Before His Assassination?)

Nkurunziza faced criticism for not being concerned enough about COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. He refused to implement forceful regulations, continued to allow large gatherings and made the national lead of the World Health Organization leave, according to Reuters. His death, however, occurred before any of the COVID-19 vaccines had been completed, so it remains unclear if he would have opposed them. Russia became the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine in August 2020, according to The New York Times.

Reuters reported that COVID-19 vaccination commenced in Ivory Coast on March 1, a week before Bakayoko passed away. There are no credible news reports about him vowing to prohibit the vaccines before his death.

There are likewise no credible media reports about Dlamini opposing the vaccines. His death occurred in December 2020, months before the first COVAX doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Africa. Eswatini’s government began vaccinating citizens for COVID-19 in March 2021, according to the World Health Organization.

The first COVID-19 vaccine doses did not arrive in Haiti until July 15, according to ABC News, eight days after Moïse was assassinated. An internet search by Check Your Fact did not turn up a single credible report from the press about him vowing to permanently prohibit the vaccine in Haiti. The government of Haiti did, however, initially reject a shipment of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year out of concern about side effects, according to Bloomberg. The government later backtracked and agreed to receive the shipment, the outlet reported.

Magufuli appears to be the only one of the five leaders mentioned in the post who openly discouraged the vaccines. Before his death, he argued that vaccination was dangerous and promoted an herbal-infused steam therapy to combat COVID-19, according to BBC News. However, Hassan’s government began administering vaccines after his death, and she was publicly vaccinated, the organization said.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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