Washington D.C., 29 November 2021 (TDI): The United States Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, held a telephonic conversation with South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor yesterday.
Blinken commended the transparency and professionalism of the South African government and its scientists with regard to the shared fight of both states against Covid-19. He expressed great pleasure over the longstanding public health cooperation between Washington and the African state.
In addition, the officials emphasized the importance of continued partnership among the African Union (AU), South Africa, the United States, and other impacted nations in Africa to help vaccinate populations and combat Covid-19.
I spoke with South African Foreign Minister Pandor @DIRCO_ZA to express our deep appreciation for the professionalism and transparency of the South African government and South Africa’s scientists in our shared fight against COVID-19.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) November 27, 2021
The Omicron Variant
In particular, the US State Secretary praised South African scientists for the quick identification of the new Covid-19 variant, ‘Omicron,’ and sharing the relevant findings with other states, which would serve as a model for the world.
At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating with researchers across the world to better understand the Omicron variant. The studies underway include the severity of infection (including symptoms), assessments of transmissibility, the performance of diagnostic tests and vaccines, and the effectiveness of treatments.
US-South Africa Relations
Since South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994, the United States and South Africa have enjoyed a cordial bilateral relationship. South Africa is a strategic partner of Washington, with strong collaboration in the areas of education, digital economy, health, and environment.
U.S. assistance to the African state focuses on enhancing healthcare, improving education standards, and teacher training. It also constitutes developing clean energy, building agricultural capacity to address regional food security, and adapting to changing weather patterns.
Earlier on October 31, 2021, Blinken and Naledi Pandor also met in Rome as part of the two-day Group of 20 (G20) Summit. During the Summit, they exchanged views on the US-South African bilateral relations, ways to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, strengthen regional security cooperation, promulgate democracy, and manage climate change.