The Botswana scientist who helped discover the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is ripping the travel bans that multiple nations, including the U.S., have imposed on most of southern Africa in a failed attempt to slow its spread.
“Is that how you reward science? By blacklisting countries?” Sikhulile Moyo, a virologist at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, told The Associated Press on Friday (Dec. 3).
“The virus does not know passports, it does not know borders,” Moyo added. “We should not do geopolitics about the virus. … We should be collaborating and understanding.”
Moyo was doing genomic sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 samples at his lab in Botswana two weeks ago and noticed three cases that seemed dramatically different, with an unusual pattern showing multiple mutations. He continued studying the results and by early last week, decided to publicly release the data on the internet.
Soon scientists in South Africa said they had made the same findings. And an identical case in Hong Kong was also identified. A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 had been discovered, and soon the WHO named it Omicron.
It has now been identified in over 38 countries.
Reporter asks Political connection between omicron variant and Africa travel ban in White House briefing [Dec, 4 2021];