The truth is, journey bans don’t clear up the issue—they simply postpone it, says Raghib Ali, an epidemiologist on the College of Cambridge, UK. Higher testing is a much more efficient measure.
“We want a balanced and proportional response. Which means no journey bans, however testing and quarantine for individuals coming from international locations the place omicron is circulating,” says Ali.
The journey bans might have one other damaging knock-on impact: chopping South Africa off from the scientific provides it must do the genomic surveillance that might elucidate the affect of omicron in real-world settings. Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatician on the College of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, instructed Nature: “By subsequent week, if nothing modifications, we’ll run out of sequencing reagents.”
The larger worry is that the therapy of southern African international locations will lead different international locations to conclude that in the event you detect a brand new variant, it’s greatest to maintain it to your self.
“They see others getting penalized for recognizing a brand new variant, and that may put them off sharing the info we want. That’s not a theoretical chance; it’s very actual,” says Ali.
Omicron gained’t be the final variant of concern. When the following one hits, we want international locations to share what they know as quickly as doable. Blanket journey bans put that openness in peril.
“Setting up journey bans that focus on Africa assaults international solidarity,” mentioned Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, in a press release final week.