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Archbishop of Cape Town: Don’t punish us for coming clean on Omicron variant

03 December 2021

Alamy

International check-in counters stand empty at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, on Sunday, after airlines stopped flying out of South Africa amid fears of the new Covid variant Omicron

International check-in counters stand empty at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, on Sunday, after airlines stopped flying out of Sout...

THE Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, has called the hoarding of coronavirus vaccines by the West not just unethical but dangerous.

Speaking on Wednesday from Cape Town, Dr Makgoba told the Church Times that he was disappointed that England’s response to the discovery of the new Omicron variant by a scientist in South Africa, who immediately passed this on to the world, was to close its borders. This measure had been met with anger in South Africa.

“The remedy should be working together to stop the variant, not annihilating countries in Southern Africa economically,” the Archbishop said. The Christmas season was when tourism thrived in places such as Cape Town; now, for the second consecutive year, the tourism industry, on which many depend for a living, would suffer.

What he expected of the Church of England, he said, was for it “to amplify our cry and connect with their Minister of Health and those that are responsible for international policy”, and to look at ways to share knowledge and help with the transportation of vaccines, which is challenging in many countries.

“We are not safe until everyone is vaccinated,” Dr Makgoba said. “If you vaccinate children, if you give others booster vaccines in the UK, Europe, and America, while Africa remains largely unvaccinated, the virus will come, new variants will develop, and they will affect those who have booster vaccines and the unvaccinated.

“So the aim really is: can we afford to leave out solidarity? Can we not be driven by Big Pharma, whose aim is profit? Can we be driven by people?”

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