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B1.1.529 – A wake-up call to governments everywhere

In the last 24 hours, governments across Europe have introduced new travel restrictions on several southern African countries in response to the emergence of a new COVID strain that some experts are warning is the worst to date. This was followed by news on Friday afternoon, that there had already been a confirmed case of the B1.1.529 COVID variant in Belgium.

In response to this development, Dr David McNair, Executive Director of Policy at The ONE Campaign, said:

“What we are seeing now is the inevitable result of wealthy countries hoarding the tools to beat the virus and ignoring the rest of the world. The failure to tackle this crisis globally ultimately represents a failure by governments to protect their own citizens.”

“This should be a wake-up call for governments everywhere. The greatest threat to the recovery from the Pandemic has always been the emergence of a new strain of the virus that undermines the medical progress made possible by the emergence of vaccines. While large groups of people remain without vaccines, this threat remains a real possibility.

“We all have to hope that this new variant is not as dangerous as feared – but we must urgently heed the warning it brings. We cannot afford to be complacent in the struggle against this virus or to entertain the dangerous notion that it’s possible to end the pandemic one country at a time. The only safe passage out of this truly global crisis is to move faster than the disease and ensure that vaccines get to people everywhere as quickly as possible.”