Is South Africa a victim of virus shaming?
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There is so little known about the new variant omicron and yet there seems a level of hysteria in the media and elsewhere.
Every official statement is followed by the caveat, “but we don’t know.”
And not knowing at this stage is not unexpected.
Viruses mutate constantly. New ones appear. Others vanish.
Today the United States announced that starting Monday, travel to the United States will be restricted from South Africa and seven other African countries — Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
No expert can firmly establish where the new mutant comes from.
The view of many South Africans is that the ban on entry is virus shaming and there is plenty of evidence it is.
South Africa has a highly developed system of epidemiologists that track the evolution of viruses.
That fact that it was first discovered in South Africa doesn’t mean it first emerged there.
Even Dr. Fauci, who supports the entry ban, argues that its source may not be South Africa.
Every country that has instituted a travel ban has Covid levels higher than South Africa.
The international spread is the result of resistance to mitigation like vaccines and mask wearing or governmental mismanagement of the crisis.
Closing borders doesn’t work.
Even government officials who are closing the borders admit that it won’t work.
Both in the short and long term the solution to the evolution of new mutations and variants is international collaboration with an end to the monopoly on vaccine production and patents.
It is not through virus shaming.
“This kind of knee-jerk reaction, really does not make sense,” said Joe Phaahla, South Africa’s health minister. “Many of these countries that are coming with this draconian reaction are battling their own fourth wave.”
“The world should provide support to South Africa and Africa and not discriminate or isolate it!” tweeted Tulio de Oliveira, director of South Africa’s Center for Epidemic Response and Innovation, calling on philanthropists to help. “By protecting its poor and oppressed population we will protect the world,” de Oliveira wrote.
Excellent context, Fred. Nothing has meaning without context. Thanks for the perspective.