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Blinken commends S. Africa for quick detection of Omicron
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 28 - 11 - 2021

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor on Saturday to discuss bilateral relations and the spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus.
During the conversation, Blinken and Pandor emphasized the importance of continued partnership among the United States, the African Union, South Africa, and the other impacted nations in Africa to help vaccinate populations and combat the impacts of COVID-19.
The Secretary expressed appreciation for the longstanding public health cooperation between the United States and South Africa, according to a statement attributable to State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.
Blinken specifically praised South Africa's scientists for the quick identification of the Omicron variant and South Africa's government for its transparency in sharing this information, which should serve as a model for the world, the spokesperson added.
The United States on Saturday praised South Africa for its vigilance in identifying the new COVID-19 strain 'Omicron' as opposed to lethargic China. US hailed the South African government for 'transparency' in sharing the vital information related to the B.1.1.529 strain of the SARS-CoV-2 first reported in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong followed by the single confirmed case in Israel.
Since the first transmission of the novel respiratory virus SARS-CoV-2 during the initial days of the year 2020, the United States has consistently lambasted Beijing for not being 'forthcoming' on transparency aspect with respect to the Coronavirus' origin, which China claimed had spread in the Wuhan wet market in December 2019. Coronavirus has since taken 5.2 million lives, globally.
"Secretary Blinken specifically praised South Africa's scientists for the quick identification of the Omicron variant and South Africa's government for its transparency in sharing this information, which should serve as a model for the world," a statement by the US Department of State read.
A US intelligence report compiled during the former Trump administration's tenure had also revealed that the novel SARS-CoV-2 was genetically altered at a Wuhan lab.
Scientists worldwide claimed that China indulged in "deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data" at the lab after the SARS-CoV-2's accidental spread and that the Chinese scientists and whistleblowers who had first learned of the virus leak were either silenced or had disappeared.
Coronavirus spread was theorized as a consequence of "gain-of-function experiments" that were being conducted in Wuhan laboratory by a former British spy chief Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, between 1999 and 2004.
"The world deserves answers," US President Joe Biden had told a White House conference. "Responsible nations do not shirk these kinds of responsibilities to the rest of the world," he asserted.
But as the new heavily mutated variant of the novel COVID-19 was detected in South Africa, that turned a major "cause for concern" for the virologists, South African health authorities scrambled to alert the world about the strain's "awful spike mutation profile". — Agencies

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