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Daily News Analysis

Vaccine apartheid and the new virus strain, Omicron

Crescent International

Countries where the Omicron variant has been found. Canada has also joined this list now.

Over the last few days, there has been renewed panic globally over the discovery of a new strain of the Corona virus—the Omicron variant.

It sounds almost like a relative of French president Macron!

First detected by doctors in South Africa, it is being blamed on the country instead of applauding its scientists for detecting it.

Flights from Southern Africa to Europe and North America have been banned.

This is grotesquely unfair and shows the degree of racism prevalent in the West.

The new strain has also been found in Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, Britain, Italy, the Czech Republic and Hong Kong, as the World Health Organization noted.

No such travel ban has been imposed on travellers from these countries.

The BBC has confirmed that Omicron cases were found in the Netherlands several days before they were reported in South Africa. And it wasn’t clear whether any Dutch residents had even traveled to South Africa.

Canada has also reported cases of this particular strain.

“It’s naïve for developed countries to believe they can stop the spread of this variant with a blanket ban on countries in southern Africa. The virus has already found its way into these societies from individuals that haven’t even travelled to or come into contact with anyone from southern Africa,” Shabir Madhi, a South African vaccinologist, told Al Jazeera.

There are other troubling aspects of how the global South has been treated during the pandemic.

More than 100 countries in Africa and Asia have repeatedly asked for vaccines supplies.

The West has been hoarding huge swaths of the global vaccine supply denying them to people in the global south that has resulted in the emergence of new variants.

For more than a year, Britain and European Union have blocked a proposal from South Africa and India to suspend intellectual property on COVID-19 technologies including vaccines.

Instead of treating the pandemic as a global phenomenon to be tackled collectively, Western regimes have used the excuse of the low rate of vaccination in the global South to blame them for its spread while refusing to provide vaccines.

In Africa, only seven percent of the people are fully vaccinated.

And among its health workers, only one in four is fully protected.

This is extremely dangerous but Western regimes are more interested in profits than saving people’s lives, especially in Africa.

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