TIME has named Dr Sikhulile Moyo to the 2022 TIME100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Dr. Moyo is the Research Laboratory Director at the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), a health research and training collaboration established in 1996 between the Government of Botswana and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Dr. Moyo (at BHP) and Professor Tulio de Oliviera (at the Stellenbosch University and the University of KwaZulu-Natal) and their colleagues are jointly credited with the discovery of the B.1.1.529 SARS-CoV-2 variant, subsequently named Omicron by the World Health Organization. Omicron and its sub variants have become the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variants causing COVID-19 globally.
“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,” said Dr Joseph Makhema, Chief Executive Officer of the BHP.
“We regard this recognition of one of our own, as a vote of confidence in the quality of scientific expertise that reside in our 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 Ms Grace Muzila, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Moyo has served as Co-Scientific Scientist to the Botswana Presidential COVID-19 Task Force, working closely with the National Public Health Laboratory and Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) on the COVID-19 response.
“It is gratifying to see the scientific contribution made by Dr. Moyo recognized in this manner,” said Dr. Roger Shapiro, Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at HSPH and Chair of the Board of Directors of BHP. “He provided an early warning to the world about Omicron, and we all owe a debt to him and to his team
of dedicated scientists in Botswana.” Dr. Shahin Lockman (at HSPH, BHP and Brigham and Women’s Hospital), adds, “the early discovery of the Omicron variant by Dr. Moyo and colleagues is one example of the critical importance of sustained support of African scientists”. The TIME100 list, now in its nineteenth year, recognizes the impact, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.
[Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership]