Pretoria [South Africa], December 10 (ANI): South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has invited scientists from the BRICS member states to visit his country and study the coronavirus and its mutations with local specialists.
"President Cyril Ramaphosa has invited scientists from fellow BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - to work alongside South African scientists in further researching the various characteristics of the COVID-19 virus and its mutations," the office of South African President said in a statement, as quoted by Russian news agency Sputnik.
"This cooperation takes place within the context of the establishment of the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre in a virtual format," the statement read.
The development comes as WHO said that it was sending a technical surge team to South Africa province to monitor Omicron and help with contract tracing, amid a spike in coronavirus reinfections.
Last week, WHO said that South Africa is reportedly seeing more patients contracting COVID-19 after having already been infected, in a way it did not with previous variants. The UN agency said that it is working with the African government to accelerate studies and bolster the response to the new variant.
Amid the ongoing spread of the Omicron variant around the world, a UN health agency panel on Thursday said that early laboratory data on the effectiveness of existing vaccines against the new COVID-19 variant is useful, but it is still unclear how effective these will be in treating severely sick patients.
The comes following reassurance from the World Health Organization (WHO) that available vaccines "hold up very well" in protecting people from the worst forms of coronavirus sickness for six months or more.
"The neutralization data has an underpinning, but it's really the clinical data that are going to be most influential about how to manage an Omicron situation," said Dr Kate O'Brien, Director, Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO. (ANI)