Statement from Seed Global Health CEO, Dr. Vanessa Kerry in response to travel restrictions arising from the COVID-19 variant identified in the United States, UK, and South Africa.
COVID is a global concern and we have to understand our connectivity in what is now a small and connected world. We live in a globalized economy where materials, goods, and people flow relatively freely whether the UK, South Africa or the US. This movement is the lifeblood of the global economy. But to protect our economy and wellbeing, we need to prioritize health security and that means stopping this pandemic in all countries.
Health security issues do not respect borders, citizenship – or political mandates. Where there are flows of people, there will be flows of COVID. We must ensure vaccinations, testing, and robust healthcare for all during this pandemic. We should also be assuming this variant is globally spread at this point. But variant, or not, the needs are the same: public health measures of masks, hand washing, and social physical distancing combined with testing, quarantine, and a global plan for equitable vaccine production and distribution.
Our individual, national, and health security are inextricably tied to the health systems of countries around the world. The variant in South Africa is actually a canary in the coal mine of the African continent and thus the world. Our concern must prioritize the potential spread and devastation that COVID will wreak on South Africa as well as its neighbors that lack the health systems, resources, and options of a vaccine soon that will be necessary to prevent widespread disease and death.
COVID has highlighted more than ever the need for more skilled health workers as Seed Global Health supports, resilient and responsive health systems, and greater global coordination on infection monitoring and vaccine distribution.
That is all of our responsibility and in all of our best interests.