Receive free letter updates
We will send you a myFT Daily Digest e-mail that rounds out the latest letter news every morning.
Politicians in the UK may not realize the anger that the recent decision to stop South Africa travel red list in the country. Such a response is certainly not helpful in deepening relations with the country, given the key role played by Africa, the Brics and the G20.
For all the outrage and accusation about racism — which has become the dominant story in South Africa — the bigger problem I see is the ‘anti-scientific’ nature of the decision.
South Africa is even ahead of many developed countries in the widespread use of Covid genomic sequencing and detection, and is still being punished for its ability to detect a very small number of beta variety samples in recent months, while the latest data from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases of South Africa suggests that so far no cases have been detected in September.
This is despite the fact that beta is probably circulating at low levels in 131 countries, according to the WHO, many of which are not on the red list, but simply do not catch up with such detailed detection as South Africa. This was all explained in a meeting of scientists from both countries this week.
When Global Britain is about new alliances of science and innovation, South Africa is in the wrong bucket for the wrong reasons.
There’s a chance to fix this problem at the next revision of the red list this week – let’s hope that science can really be trumped.
Peter Attard Montalto