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COVID-19: What is needed to address emergent pathogens?


Omicron highlights why a global regime is needed to support countries reporting variants, and that a shared sense of well-being has to come to the fore.

It is important to understand the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron with all its myriad mutations – on this occasion first detected in South Africa – is not unexpected.

What it highlights are the continuing and fundamental risks to everyone associated with not seriously addressing the governance, structural, technological, and socioeconomic inequalities still at play globally in the fight against disease and poor health.

Mutations such as those present in this latest variant will continue to surface, as in all likelihood will other infectious viruses with pandemic potential.

The Omicron variant – rapidly detected thanks to South Africa’s relatively advanced genomic sequencing capability and willingness to engage with international partners and collaborating agencies – has resulted in a series of travel bans restricting South Africa’s citizens and impediments to international trade.

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