The scientist who discovered the extremely mild Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Botswana says his country, and all of Africa, was unfairly targeted by the international community after the variant was discovered.
Dr. Sikhulile Moyo, a laboratory director and research director at two Harvard-partnered initiatives, told the BBC that Botswana is being devastated by the international community’s response to the Omicron variant.
Moyo’s statements come even as more countries continue to embrace stringent COVID-19 restrictions over a variant characterized by its mild symptoms and overall survivability as much as it is its transmissability.
“How do you reward the countries that alert you of a potential dangerous pathogen with travel bans? My country was put on a red list, and I didn’t feel good about that,” Moyo told the BBC.
“We know the repercussions. Flights were canceled, goods were not coming into the country, a lot of businesses lost millions. And our vaccine supply was being threatened because of delays on the way.”
Moyo added, “Quite a trail of destruction.”
Within Botswana, the public has apparently turned against the scientists, who it holds responsible for the economic devastation wrought by the discovery.
Moyo compared the international community’s treatment of the Omicron variant and Africa to its treatment of the United Kingdom and its handling of the so-called “alpha variant” of COVID-19:
“The alpha variant was raging in the U.K. [months ago], and none of the countries put the U.K. on the red list. Because we understand that it’s a global village. Of course, we enhanced border screening, enhanced requirements for entering into the country, including maybe a quarantine and testing. But it was never shutting our door, because we understand that these viruses don’t respect our natural borders.”
He made similar statements in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
In the interview, Moyo suggested Africa was being given an unfair stigma because of the Omicron variant.
“What is very sad,” said Moyo, “Is that how you reward science?”
“By blacklisting countries?” He added, “I think we are over reacting.”
Meanwhile, countries in the West have pushed mass vaccination, lockdowns, and face masks as the strategy to deal with the Omicron variant, despite none of them working against the Alpha or Delta variants of the virus.
In California, embattled Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom explicitly admitted that face masks are necessary because vaccines are not stopping the Omicron variant. National File reported:
“The omicron in particular is of concern because we know the transmissability is much higher, the severity may not be as acute,” said Newsom.
“But we’re seeing it disproportionate.”
“In 48 cases in California we’ve identified, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority, have been fully vaccinated,” he added, “And that’s why masking becomes even more important in this environment.”
Despite this, Democrats have advanced mass vaccination as a key part of the effort to tackle the Omicron variant, with Biden and his key advisors claiming – without evidence – that vaccines and booster shots will defeat the new strain.
Recently, the CDC acknowledged that 80% of Omicron variant cases have been in individuals who were vaccinated.