Botswana based virologist, Sikhulile Moyo, who is credited with the discovery of the Covid-19 Omicron variant has been recognised as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Dr Moyo, the Research Laboratory Director at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), was recognised together with Tulio de Oliveira, director of South Africa’s Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation.
The honorees were split into categories: artists, innovators, leaders, icons, titans, and pioneers, where the two scientists appeared.
The Botswana government led with the plaudits with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health Grace Muzila said they regard the recognition of one of their own as a vote of confidence in the quality of scientific expertise that reside in the country.
“It is a true demonstration that Botswana can be counted amongst a league of countries that have developed the requisite scientific knowledge and infrastructure that can help us and the world, to respond to current and future health challenges,” said Muzila.
Chief Executive Officer of the BHP, Dr Joseph Makhema said this discovery demonstrates the potential to leverage existing local human and infrastructural capacity to participate in cutting-edge scientific pursuits for the benefit of local, regional, and global scientific public health advances.”
John Nkengasong the director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention described the discovery as “a transformational moment and a shift in paradigm—one that for me symbolized that excellence in science can originate in Africa.”
He added: “Every generation has people who inspire subsequent generations. Sikhulile and Tulio have the potential to be that for people who will work in public health and genomics. We have not seen the end of their contributions.”
The TIME100 list, now in its nineteenth year, recognizes the impact, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.