Omicron is not a virus from Africa

omicron

As soon as South African  scientists warned about a new Coronavirus variant, Omicron, developed countries decided to block connections among South African and neighboring countries. Was this “preventing policy” fair and effective?

Scientists and international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN), named these decisions as selectives, racists and nonproductive. Normally, canceling fights is the very last option. This decision might provoke economic and social damages -that’s why other countries didn’t take this decision.

Jose Eduardo Agualusa (Angola) and Mia Couto (Mozambique) are very well-known writers. They asked whether it was possible to get two pandemics.

They announced that there aren’t closed borders, but economies, societies and the path of progress are blocked for people.

Two days after announcing the finding, South African scientists didn’t have material to keep analyzing Omicron behavior to offer valuable data to the scientific community. Fights which transported those substances were restricted.

Writers expressed, “Once again, Science was hosted by politics… The fear blocked the reason… Selfishness was impulsed.”

Picture of the spanish newsletter La Tribuna de Albacete

Good practices against the virus

The new variante was identified as B.1.1.529. WHO named it with the Greek letter Omicron. However, most people refer to it as the Coronavirus South African variant.

According to the good practices guide, what we should do against the social stigmatization related to any disease -COVID-19, mental health, HIV/AIDS, etc., Is to reinforce trust and show empathy to the sick people.

What we shouldn’t do is to go to extreme situations by making announcements as The Virus from Africa  is with us (Die Rheimpfalz, German newspaper) or by publishing strips as the ones in @TribunaAlbacete on the 28 of November, 2021. There was a boat called Omicron with the South African flag and the phrase “Black virus” coming to Europe.

Segregation, disequality, marginalization drive us to spreading more diseases. When people feel marginalized, they tend to hide their own diseases. As a consequence of feeling fear, they adopt unhealthy behavior and don’t look for medical assistance.

The real key is the universal and solidarity reaction, without dividing the world by taking into account the places from where people came and how much they pay for the rent. Why do we keep insisting on an attitude which doesn’t let us move forward?

Omicron was already in Europe

Even though borders were blocked, Omicron spreaded all over the world. Scott Gottlieb MD, member of Pfizer’s Board, affirmed it’s possible that the virus had circulated two or three months before the findings.

The Netherlands government announced that Omicron was already present in the country even before South African authorities warned about it without taking into account positive cases in South Africa.

In Belgium, the first case isn’t connected to South African countries as well as in Britain where establishing a connection between first South African positive cases is difficult…

When Omicron was discovered, there was a huge spreading in Europe -not connection to South African countries. In Mozambique, there were just 5 new cases, no one hospitalized and no one passed away because of COVID-19. In the nearby countries, something similar happened.

Let’s close borders because of the “African virus”!

Get vaccinated and climate change

There’s no doubt that Omicron has shown us how important getting vaccinated is.

It also should be a warning about disequality in the access to vaccines. As Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, affirmed, this can’t continue like this.

The General Affairs Council of the European Union announced that restrictions will be focused on vaccination since the 1st of February of 2022 . The focus will be on whether a person is or isn’t vaccinated, on a person who has a disease or on a person who is negative, instead of focusing on the place where that person was born.

Moving forward isn’t possible if there are too many countries without access to vaccines, countries where the number of vaccinated people is none. WHO insists on the relevance of world immunity and in protecting the less protected.

Climate change is also a risk factor for the spreading of infectious disease. Keep it in mind! 

Global temperatures, radical temperature changes, extreme weather disasters, as drought , flood, hurricanes, etc. can change the virus as well as the poor quality of air which make us more vulnerables. 

If we don’t want more mutations, getting vaccines should be easier for those who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet and they keep fighting against climate change.

Take action, be a member!

Written by Andrea Mira
Translated by Julieta F.