On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) designated the variant B.1.1.529 a ‘variant of concern’, named Omicron, on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE).
According to the WHO, the decision was based on the evidence presented to the TAG-VE that Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes.
The virus was first detected in South Africa and, according to Skelton-Cline on the November 30, 2021, edition of his Honestly Speaking show, the new variants are inevitable given unequal access to vaccines, especially in places like Africa.
According to the man of the cloth, for Africa, there were delaying tactics and higher price points when it came to vaccine availability, “of course what’s happening now was inevitable. Vaccination has either been delayed or just downright denied,” he said.
He said governments and big pharmaceutical companies must ensure that the least of economies get access to vaccines.
"If on this matter of the global pandemic, if the world community cannot come together to ensure that the least advantaged, that the poorest countries of the world who they themselves... have caused to be poor," he said if the global community done stop delaying vaccine availability, then the rest of the world would have a difficulty to exit the pandemic.
"It is obscene, it immoral, it is a perversion of basic human decency and neighbourliness to each other," he said.
Skelton-Cline said there must now be an aggressive, assertive move towards ensuring that it is not just the wealthy countries that get access to vaccines.