Let science guide in battle against COVID-19, says Botswanan minister

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Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Wang Xuefeng (L) and Botswana Minister of Health and Wellness Edwin Dikoloti pose for a photo during the handover ceremony, when the Chinese embassy donated oxygen generators and ventilators to Botswana, in Gaborone, Botswana, on Aug. 4, 2021. (Xinhua/Teng Junwei)
Chinese Ambassador to Botswana Wang Xuefeng (L) and Botswana Minister of Health and Wellness Edwin Dikoloti pose for a photo during the handover ceremony, when the Chinese embassy donated oxygen generators and ventilators to Botswana, in Gaborone, Botswana, on Aug. 4, 2021. (Xinhua/Teng Junwei)

The origin tracing of the COVID-19 pandemic should be led by science and not be politicized, Edwin Dikoloti, Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness has said.

“We should let science lead, let science guide. Our position hasn’t changed on that one,” the minister told Xinhua on the occasion of a handover ceremony held on Wednesday when the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone donated oxygen generators and ventilators to Botswana.

“We don’t want this disease to be politicized … that is why our approach has been a science-led team within the Presidential Task Force to help us in terms of the control and management of this disease,” Dikoloti said.

The remarks by the minister echoed those of many scientists, who express concerns that science is being sidelined by politics amid global anti-pandemic efforts.

Currently, the Delta variant is causing a surge in COVID-19 caseloads in countries across the world, including Botswana. The priority for African countries including Botswana, said the minister, is to cry out loud for the availability of vaccines.

Dikoloti noted that the rate at which the virus is mutating is worrying and a vast majority of people still have not even got the first shot. “We really long for a situation where there is proper equitable distribution of vaccines.”

“No one is safe until we are all safe. So let’s allow science to lead in terms of origin-tracing. Let’s make sure that no one is left out in terms of the distribution of vaccines,” Dikoloti said, adding that countries should not lose focus in their pandemic fight.

Dikoloti appreciated the support Botswana has been receiving from China, including the delivery in April of a batch of COVID-19 vaccines provided by China’s Sinovac, and expected closer win-win cooperation with China.

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