Travel ban: Africa not source of COVID-19, should not be punished for Omicron variant —Akinwumi Adesina


Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), has advised world leaders not to label or penalise African nations for new COVID-19 variants and mutations happening across the world.

Adesina, one of the strong advocates of equity in vaccine distribution, said this in a series of tweets on Sunday in the wake of the new COVID-19 variant spreading and causing panic.


On Thursday, South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced the discovery of the new variant of coronavirus, known as B.1.1.529. The World Health Organisation (WHO) later tagged it “Omicron” and designated it a ‘variant of concern’ (VOC) because of its “concerning” number of mutations.


Scientists had said the new Omicron could evade the body’s immune response, making it more transmissible.

Apart from South Africa, the new variant has been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong. Since the discovery, many nations have rushed to place travel restrictions on South Africa and other countries in the region.


He said Africa is not the source of the COVID-19 pandemic and should not be penalised for new variants, urging for global justice, equity, and fairness in access to vaccines.


“Africa should not be labelled and penalized for COVID-19 variants and mutations that occur randomly elsewhere in the world. Africa is not the source of COVID-19,” he tweeted.


 “There must be global justice, equity & fairness in access to vaccines. Global vaccine supply system has underserved Africa. Protecting one’s home alone in the midst of a forest fire does not work. Put out the forest fire.


“Africa must accelerate the manufacturing of its own vaccines & set up its own “healthcare security defence system”. Africa must no longer outsource health security of its 1.8 billion people to the benevolence of others.”


On Saturday, South Africa also said it was being punished for its advanced ability to detect new COVID-19 variants. The African nation said the travel bans and restrictions imposed would affect its economy.

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