President Ramaphosa calls on BRICS scientists to cooperate on COVID-19 research

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on scientists from fellow BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – to work alongside South African scientists in further researching the various characteristics of the COVID-19 virus and its mutations.

The call for collaboration comes after the detection of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 in South Africa on 24 November, resulting in travel bans from many countries.

This initiative forms part of a contribution to intra-BRICS cooperation to strengthen preparedness and responses to the pandemic as articulated in the New Delhi Declaration, which was adopted at the 13th BRICS Summit in September 2021.

President Ramaphosa said humanity will only overcome the pandemic if the countries of the world work in closer cooperation by sharing information, expertise and resources.

He said this cooperation must be underpinned by the principles of solidarity, partnership and mutual respect.

“The spread of the different COVID-19 variants to all corners of the earth underlines the importance of effective surveillance, scientific transparency and collaborative research. Every country is affected and every country must be able to develop responses based on sound scientific evidence.

“The collaboration among BRICS countries is intended to broaden our knowledge of the COVID-19 virus not only for the benefit of member countries, but for the global community more broadly,” President Ramaphosa said.

In a statement, The Presidency said that this cooperation takes place within the context of the establishment of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre in a virtual format.

“President Ramaphosa has appointed the Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Council on COVID-19, Prof Koleka Mlisana, to lead a task team of South African researchers in the area of genomic sequencing to work with their counterparts from other BRICS countries,” the statement read.

Scientists from the BRICS countries will be supported by officials from the Departments of Health and Higher Education, Science and Innovation.

South Africa is currently the host of the BRICS Vaccine Research Centre and the research on the Omicron variant will form part of the centre’s initiatives.

The international team is set to exchange and share information on laboratory, clinical and epidemiological experiences regarding the virus in order to help clinicians and policy makers in BRICS countries better prepare for future manifestations of the disease.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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