by Toby Green
Wednesday, 1
December 2021
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07:00

Covid panic is hurting African countries once again

The bias towards shutting borders is not as wise as people think
by Toby Green
Workers protest in Gauteng province in August

Why have world governments panicked in response to the Omicron Covid variant, which the doctor who discovered it has said produces very mild symptoms?

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that the South African government was seeking to stop imports of Pfizer Covid vaccines — just two days later, the WHO declared Omicron a “variant of concern”, thereby shattering the Southern African tourist industry.

Consequently, Southern African economies (already on their knees after the last 20 months) will be devastated. Tourism accounts not only for 7% of outright GDP across Africa, but also a large percentage of allied service industries. As Busi Mavuso of the Business Leadership South Africa forum put it:

Our tourism industry has been dealt another serious body blow… Tourism employs disproportionate numbers of women and less skilled workers. It is particularly important in the fight against poverty.
- Busi Mavuso, Business Leadership South Africa

The impacts of this closure will be catastrophic on the continent. In 2020, 12.4 million jobs were lost in Africa’s travel and tourism sector as a result of the Covid shutdowns. And in The Gambia, for example, tour guides said they had lost between 60 and 90% of their earnings. 

With this bias towards aggressive shut-your-borders policies, with “Independent SAGE” as usual agitating for the severest restrictions, world governments continue to be blind to the impacts of the shutdown model on poor countries. (As well as the initial evidence that suggests that the Omicron variant may even be milder than Delta.)

The Omicron response follows the pattern of discriminatory Covid policies, where segregating the unvaccinated means disproportionately targeting large numbers of members of minority communities, who for reasons of historic racism are suspicious of the Covid vaccines — and where vaccines are hoarded through authoritarian mandates in the West, allowing few to be distributed to at-risk groups in poor countries.

The Omicron variant thus teaches us more about the irreconcilable contradictions of Western governance in the Covid era. Racism is taboo, but Covid policies perpetuate it. The migration crisis is lamented, but Covid measures are exacerbating it. Impoverishing poor countries on a massive scale is a recipe for a greater public health and migration crisis than anything brought on by Covid: we are left to look on as governments create the authoritarian playbook with which they now feel entitled to deal with the disastrous consequences of their own policies.

Toby Green’s book on the Covid Crisis is The Covid Consensus: The New Politics of Global Inequality (Hurst).

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Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago

And as a South African, we will never forget the UK government opening their borders to India ‘after’ the Delta variant, but keeping restrictions in place for Southern African countries. We see you.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
5 months ago

We now have many, many more times familial contact with the Indian subcontinent than with South Africa.

India’s economy is significantly larger and growing. India is also perceived as a counterweight to China whereas Africa is rapidly becoming a Chinese sphere of influence.

None of this makes me happy or proud but realpolitik rarely does

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Of course India has more familial contact (and has a much larger economy) than South Africa – India has 1.4 billion people and South Africa has 60 million people. Less people have migrated, but fact remains that both countries are part of the Commonwealth.
This of course in no way removes the stench from the decision (as you have alluded to) – and the stench reeks of racism.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
5 months ago

We often agree to disagree. But here playing the ‘racist card’ is about as racist as you can be.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Not where I am coming from. The UK government has clamped down massively on South African movement across their borders since 1994.
Further it has taken successive delegations to beg the UK to lift their unbalanced and unfair and illogical restrictions against South Africa during Covid. Now I wonder what the reason could be… hmmmm.

Last edited 5 months ago by Lesley van Reenen
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
5 months ago

The next phase of the covid ‘Great Game’ is unfolding now….

It is vaccines. The West developed these mRNA kinds which stick some alien virus genetic material into you and make your cells produce the Covid-19 spike proteins, which then jut out of them like the alien bursting out of the person in ‘Alien’… so antibodies are made, but just to the one spike protein.

Just the spike protein, and just the one original one. That the Vax inevitable produce a higher case rate of infection in the population with the higher percent of people vaccinated is an odd side effect, like Israel and Gibraltar.

But what ever – the thing is that because it just triggers production of the antibody for THAT spike protein, it is not able to handle mutations in involving the spike well at all. Now Natural infection produces many kinds of antibodies because it reacts to the entire virus, not just the spike. This is why Natural Immunity is so superior (so superior Natural Immunity must be discounted completely so the vax agenda may be supreme.)

BUT… here is the thing… “CoronaVac (Chinese vax) is a more traditional method [of vaccine] that is successfully used in many well known vaccines like rabies,” The Chinese and Russian Vax is whole virus. Just as all previous vaccines were – the whole virus dead, and so your immune system builds the whole range of antibodies.

And oddly enough, in South Africa where the covid O is not so bad – well they got the Chinese vax mostly – or got Delta and so natural immunity – they are near herd immunity it would seem, and so their breakthroughs are not really a good idea of what is coming West.

Odd how the Chinese virus may better handled by the Chinese vaccine…. but time will tell… Vaccinating during a pandemic, according to many, Like Bret Weinstein, is sure to produce mutations.

And Toby – I agree, the West shutting the global economy wile they had loads of $ in reserve and could produce debt to pay for it, wile the less well off people became destitute, is a crime – Lockdowns Kill many more than they save, and cause VAST collateral damage to education, jobs, business, health, mental health, pensions, and it is all paid for by debt the young – who do not suffer from covid anyway – will have to pay back. Madness…. The young of the world, West and East, have paid so old and infirm may reduce their risk of covid. (actually so the WEF can trigger the Great Reset)

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
5 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’m not sure what you say about the Chinese and Russian vaccines is accurate. My understanding was that the Russian Sputnik vaccine was an adenovirus/DNA vaccine where the first shot uses the same adenovirus as the J&J vaccine, and the second shot a different adenovirus that is the same as that used by the Chinese version. The Chinese have also produced two more traditional types of inactivated virus vaccine (CoronoVac/SinoVac and Sinopharm) but I don’t know how effective these are. In contrast, the Indians have recently produced an inactivated whole virus vaccine (Covaxin) that appears to be highly effective (80%) against all strains of SARS-CoV2. But good luck having that vaccine ever approved in the good old USA as it wasn’t developed in the US and of course doesn’t make use of all the fancy/schmanzy new technology of the mRNA vaccines, although the latter have ultimately proved to be a complete failure (unless the booster shot saves the day which I suspect is unlikely given that the response is still narrowly targeted to just the spike protein).