Africa must not lag behind in the global response to Covid-19 and the introduction of vaccinations so that the continent does not become a breeding ground for new varieties.
This is a serious warning to African scientists and public health Specialists who have been carrying out genomic surveys since the coronavirus arrived on the continent in early 2020.
The scientists from various universities in South Africa who work closely with the Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC.)) Said that Africa, although it has played a crucial role in analyzing the various varieties that have been making the rounds in the world and driving the global public health response, lagging behind other parts of the world.
This is due to him fragile health and science infrastructure, lack of technology, weak purchasing power, and the fact that diagnostics and reagents are owned by developed countries et became what Africa is the world’s least vacuumed continent.
In an article published in Science on Friday, scientists from various institutions, including the University of KwaZulu-Natal and of Stellenbosch University, the Covid-19 experts: “Africa must not lag behind in the global pandemic response, otherwise it could become a breeding ground for new Covid-19 variants.”
Prof. Tulio de Oliveira, Professor of Bioinformatics and Director of the KwaZulu- Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) at UKZN said: “We are determined to use the most advanced technologies in Africa to detect and fight the virus. If the virus continues to develop in the African continent, it will become a global problem. It is our moral duty to protect Africa and the world. ”
De Oliveira, who is also involved in the Faculty of Data Science and Computational Thinking at Stellenbosch University, said the analysis of Covid-19 Variants in 33 African countries was “very fulfilling”.
The collaboration comprised 112 African and 25 international organizations, including Africa CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO). It shows that the epidemics in most countries were triggered by imports mainly from Europe, which decreased after the early introduction of international travel restrictions.
During the course of the pandemic, continued transmission in many countries and increased mobility led to it the emergence and continental distribution of many worrying and interesting variants, such as Beta, which was first identified in South Africa, and Eta, which was originally identified in the UK and Nigeria.
Despite limited sampling, African scientists have identified many of the Variants of concern and concern spread around the world. In the paper, they warn that if the pandemic in Africa is not controlled, “we could see the production of variants of the vaccine escape that can profoundly affect the African and world populations”.
De Oliveira said : “It was a very fulfilling collaboration. Not only did we manage to share and analyze our African data together, the collaboration also included a full exchange of knowledge, with all analysis scripts being shared and hundreds of hours of capacity building in analysis and data generation so that genomics were decentralized and carried out in reality there may be time in Africa. “
Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC, said strengthening genome monitoring systems across the continent is key to early detection and control of disease outbreaks.
“The Africa CDC has supported the Institute since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic of Pathogen Genomics, the member states are in the process of expanding their SARS-CoV-2 genome monitoring for the rapid detection of variants. The institute is very proud of this collaboration and will continue to coordinate the collaboration between public health, academic and research institutions in order to strengthen capacities in the genomics and bioinformatics of pathogens in Africa. ”
Since this collaboration has Africa increased its genome monitoring and today around 40,000 African genomes are available.
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“This will prolong the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic not only in Africa, but worldwide.
“We ignore mutations and variants at your own risk. The Delta variant is a wake-up call and underscores the importance of genomic information and ensuring that African scientists have the necessary resources to analyze the development of Covid-19, ”the authors say.