COVID-19 source tracing should be science-based: South African leading scientist

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COVID-19 source-tracing should be science-based, objective and fair, well-known South African epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim said.

It is very important to identify sources of new viruses because it gives clues as to what people can expect in the future, Karim, also former chairman of the country’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, said in a recent interview with Hong Kong-based broadcaster Phoenix TV.

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker checks the temperature of a local resident during a regional health screening program in Rustenburg, South Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

He called on the international community to treat the issue of COVID-19 source-tracing in a science-based, objective and fair manner, and to oppose any politicized attempts.

“We must do that in a scientifically rigorous way. This is not a time for political posturing and finger pointing,” Karim said. “This is a time for cool heads to make sure we collect the scientific evidence.”

“We need all the authorities to cooperate. We need to do so in a transparent way so that all the different possibilities are explored. The evidence is collected and the answers are obtained. It’s in everyone’s interest to get an answer that is scientifically credible,” he added.

Karim welcomed the decision by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to authorize the use in South Africa of the CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Chinese drugmaker Sinovac, saying the SAHPRA has ensured that the medications are high-quality, safe and effective.

Facing the emergence of more variants of the SARS-CoV-2 around the world, the epidemiologist said the world must remain vigilant and monitor every new variant. “It is no time for complacency,” he added.

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