US 'Counterproductive': Gottlieb Pans U.S. Travel Ban on African Countries Over Omicron Variant

04:05  27 november  2021
04:05  27 november  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

New COVID variant threat causes worldwide scramble

  New COVID variant threat causes worldwide scramble BRUSSELS (AP) — Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is racing to contain a new coronavirus variant potentially more dangerous than the one that has fueled relentless waves of infection on nearly every continent. A World Health Organization panel named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern, the same category that includes the predominant delta variant, which is still a scourge driving higher cases of sickness and death in Europe and parts of the United States.

The new variant , dubbed Omicron , poses a new challenge for Biden, who has had a mixed degree of success getting Americans vaccinated after a politically motivated pushback by 10 states on mandates, and faces criticism from international health experts and foreign leaders about failing to send vaccines to Countries around the world rushed to suspend travel from southern Africa after the World Health Organization said Omicron was "of concern." Many of those restrictions kick in immediately, unlike the United States'. read more. The restrictions apply to South Africa , Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia

The Omicron variant has been found in South Africa and Botswana, as well as in a person who traveled to Hong Kong from South Africa . Belgium was the first European nation with a confirmed case. Israel has also confirmed the presence of the variant . Fauci said Omicron appeared to be spreading at “a reasonably rapid rate” and said US scientists were in “very active communication” with their South African counterparts, seeking to learn more. “Right now, we’re getting the material together with our South African colleagues to get a situation where you could actually directly test it,” he said.

Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), criticized on Friday the U.S. decision to ban travel from South Africa and seven other countries in response to the new COVID Omicron variant as "counterproductive."

Although Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said that it's © Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images Although Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said that it's "good" that the world is taking action against the new Omicron variant, he warned that travel bans on South African countries will have an impact. Above, a sign at a drug store advertises the COVID-19 vaccine on November 19 in New York City.

Gottlieb wrote on Twitter that it is "good" that the world is taking Omicron seriously as it prepares to combat the new variant, but warned that imposing strict travel restrictions will backfire.

Donald Trump Jr, Ted Cruz Troll WHO For Skipping 'Xi' in Naming Omicron Variant

  Donald Trump Jr, Ted Cruz Troll WHO For Skipping 'Xi' in Naming Omicron Variant The Chinese president's surname is relatively common and the term Nu may have been deemed confusing.The WHO announced on Friday that the COVID variant known as B.1.1.529 was a Variant of Concern (VOC) and that it had been named the Omicron Variant, skipping the letters Xi and Nu.

In addition to South Africa , other countries included in the new restrictions are Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. There was no indication Friday of how long the bans will remain in place. President Joe Biden said in a statement that moving forward he will be Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique were among the 51 countries the U . S . exempted from the vaccine requirement because of low availability there. Biden was briefed on the variant Friday by White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, as a growing list of countries issued their own travel bans .

South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said Friday that other countries ' decisions to impose travel restrictions amid concerns over the detection of a heavily mutated variant of Covid-19 in his country is "unjustified." "The kind of knee-jerk reaction, it really doesn't make sense," Phaahla said at a media briefing Deputy Health Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo said at the media breifing he believes indications are that the U . S . will divert from other nations and not impose a travel ban . Earlier Friday, White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN' s "New Day" the U . S . will speak with scientists from

"It's counterproductive in short and long run, however, to impose harsh travel restrictions on affected countries; hurting current containment efforts, discouraging future sharing," he said on Twitter.

President Joe Biden on Friday banned travel from South Africa, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana starting November 29.

The president said that his decision came as a "precautionary measure" after he had a briefing with his chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci and the COVID response team.

"There's too much we don't know to impose economically, socially ruinous policies on SA and other nations," Gottlieb wrote in another Tweet criticizing the travel ban. "Ready, fire, aim is not prudent public health policy. Vaccine, testing requirements for incoming travelers could be prudent. Outright travel bans can hurt more than help."

Forget Travel Bans to Fight Omicron Variant, Focus on Vaccinating Africans: Doctor

  Forget Travel Bans to Fight Omicron Variant, Focus on Vaccinating Africans: Doctor Dr. Peter Hotez said travel bans "have not been very effective" during the pandemic and noted new variants emerge from "large unvaccinated populations."Speaking on CNN Saturday, Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said that travel bans "have not been very effective" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Travellers returning from South Africa , Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini would have to quarantine for 10 days at a government facility. Sajid Javid, UK health secretary, on Friday described the new B.1.1.529 variant as a “huge international concern”, telling the House of Commons: “Early indications show this variant may be more transmissible than the Israel also banned travel to and from seven southern African nations, including South Africa and Botswana, and Israelis returning from those countries would have to quarantine for seven days, and be tested twice before release.

U . S . Imposes Travel Bans on Southern Africa Over New Variant . Scott Gottlieb Says Travel Restrictions Are Counterproductive . Countries across Europe halted air travel from southern Africa amid growing concern about the variant . European Union members agreed to rapidly impose restrictions on seven African countries -- Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe -- as scientists scrambled to determine whether the new strain is more dangerous.

In a White House statement on Friday, Biden urged fully vaccinated Americans to get their COVID vaccine booster shots and called for global vaccinations to curb the spread of the new strain that originated in South Africa.

Japan, Israel, and the U.K. have also imposed temporary air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant.

Similarly, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it is considering working with EU members to apply air travel restrictions from the southern African region.

Meanwhile, South African officials have echoed Gottlieb's concerns about moving too fast when it comes to imposing travel restrictions.

South Africa's health minister Joe Phaahla denounced these decisions on Friday and said that the country was transparent in sharing the news about the new variant with the world, as it was detected by scientists in the country earlier this week, according to The Guardian.

Omicron is already global, tests for international flights are far better than African travel ban

  Omicron is already global, tests for international flights are far better than African travel ban Kneejerk reactions can end up causing more harm than good. As the coronavirus continues to mutate, it is conceivable that new future variants can first arise in any country, including the United States. Setting precedents for attempted isolation can be used as international political weapons rather than as a risk mitigation strategy. It also encourages subterfuge, since no country wants to be labelled as the harbinger of a new variant with countries banning travel to and from them. A flawed and potentially dangerous message is sent when honest communication and good science are punished with travel bans.

As with past travel bans , countries are allowing their own citizens and permanent residents to return home if they test negative for the virus, with some requiring additional testing and quarantine after arrival. But officials warned that even with quickly enacted travel restrictions, Omicron , like past variants , is certain to spread and reach the United States. “It’ s going to buy us some time,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview. “It’ s not going to be possible to keep this infection out of the country .

European countries agreed Friday to restrict Southern Africa travel , citing concerns over a new coronavirus strain detected there that the World Health Organization designated as a “ variant of concern. ” The global health body said the new strain, which it named “ Omicron ,” appeared to be more However, in a sign that travel bans may prove futile, Belgium has already confirmed one case of the new variant . The variant was first detected by genomic sequencing in South Africa and shared with an international database on November 22. Though data regarding the virulence and ability of the

"The same countries that are enacting this kind of knee-jerk, draconian reaction are battling their own waves," Phaahla said during a press conference, according to the publication.

"The reaction of countries to impose travel bans are completely against the norms and standards as guided by the World Health Organization," the health minister added.

Chairperson of the South African Medical Association, Angelique Coetzee, also shared similar views. She told the BBC that travel bans were "premature" and that "for now, it is a storm in a tea cup."

Coetzee said that the variant "seems to have originated" from an HIV patient, but confirmed that there were only six Omicron cases in South Africa, local radio station Jacaranda FM reported on Thursday.

Still, Fauci told CNN on Friday that "everything" needs to be done "to protect the American public." But he added that "we need to get the facts" about the Omicron variant and that there is "no indication" that it has reached the U.S.

Related Articles

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  • Omicron Variant Prompts Concerns About Vaccine Efficacy as Scientists Race to Test Strain
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  • President Biden Warns New Omicron COVID Variant 'Spreads Rapidly,' Urges Booster Shots
  • Which Countries Have Detected Cases of 'Alarming' New Omicron COVID Variant?

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These are the states where the omicron variant has been identified .
The new omicron coronavirus variant has been found in 12 U.S. states just three days days after the first case in the country was announced. The new variant, which was first discovered in South Africa, was announced in late November and has already spread to dozens of countries across the world. One day after Thanksgiving, the Wold Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting on the variant, which it has determined is a "variant ofThe new variant, which was first discovered in South Africa, was announced in late November and has already spread to dozens of countries across the world.

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