Urgent calls for global solidarity in pandemic response

Posted on 29 November 2021

Following recent news about the new Covid variant, ‘Omicron’, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa, has called for greater global solidarity.

The WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Moeti, said: “With the Omicron variant now detected in several regions of the world, putting in place travel bans that target Africa attacks global solidarity. Covid-19 constantly exploits our divisions. We will only get the better of the virus if we work together for solutions.”

In a press conference on Friday, Joe Phaahla, South Africa’s Health Minister, spoke out about nations who have been quick to put blame on South Africa, rather than working collaboratively to address the situation, as guided by WHO.

Professor Tulio de Oliveira, the Director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa, said in a tweet: “We have been very transparent with scientific information. We identified, made data public, and raised the alarm as the infections are just increasing. We did this to protect our country and the world in spite of potentially suffering massive discrimination.

South Africa’s President Ramaphosa, said that the Omicron variant is a vaccine inequality wake up call. He said: “Vaccine inequality cannot be allowed to continue. Until everyone is vaccinated, everyone will continue to be at risk.”

A proposal made in October 2020 by South Africa and India and supported by over 120 countries, called for a waiver of Intellectual Property obligations under the World Trade Organization. The (TRIPS) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights creates a barrier to vaccine access for poorer countries, by restricting their access to the vaccine ‘recipe’ and limiting their ability to produce vaccines cheaply.

In her recent CID Conference address, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, also called for this waiver and warned that global vaccine inequality risks new, more transmissible and deadly variants developing.