South African scientists’ discovery of the Omicron variant has enhanced the nation’s reputation and contribution to the global fight against the COVID-19 virus.
Johannesburg, South Africa (30 November 2021) – Brand South Africa joins many global institutions and nations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the president of the United States of America, Joe Biden, in applauding South Africa’s internationally renowned scientists, for detecting the Omicron variant through collaborative efforts with laboratories and the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa.
As a critical role player in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa swiftly shared the discovery and the detection of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron with its international counterparts. Shortly after South Africa discovered Omicron, it emerged that the variant had been detected in other parts of the world, including Britain, Belgium, Botswana, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, Israel, the Czech Republic and now Australia. The discovery showcases South Africa’s strong reputation in scientific and epidemiological excellence, and it deserves to be praised for detecting Omicron instead of being penalised with travel bans by its global counterparts.
South Africa has demonstrated its efficiency and preparedness through its sophisticated scientific surveillance systems that enabled it to detect the emerging variant so that the global community can respond with measures that minimise the risk of transmissions. To date, 41% of South Africa’s adult population have received at least one vaccine dose, 35.6% fully vaccinated and 57% of people 60 years and older fully vaccinated. Whilst not at ideal levels, the country is making excellent progress in its efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
South Africa’s economy is showing signs of recovery, recording its fourth consecutive quarterly growth of 1,2% in the second quarter of 2021 (April–June). As the Government continues to reopen various economic sectors carefully, they are informed and advised by scientists. The travel bans for the country and its neighbouring countries will set back this recovery and adversely affect livelihoods.
Over the weekend, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a plan to ramp up vaccination efforts by establishing a task team, to develop a sustainable approach to vaccine mandates for specific activities and locations to achieve herd immunity.
“Brand South Africa implores South Africans to heed the President’s call for everyone to play their part, get vaccinated, observe COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing masks and maintain safe distances to help prevent the spread and devastation of COVID-19.”
As the international community meets to discuss the new variant discovered by South African scientists, including the upcoming G7 health ministers, they will be urged to consider the devastating impact of the travel restrictions on the livelihoods of South Africans and the neighbouring countries. South Africa’s recent successful and safe hosting of international events such as the recent Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) held in eThekwini, with thousands of international delegates, demonstrates the country’s capability to manage risks and protect lives and livelihoods.
Finally, as had been demonstrated with the transparency and expediency with which South Africa discovered the variant and shared information on the Omicron virus variant, the country is committed to playing its part in contributing to worldwide efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.