Former Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb took to Twitter on Friday to criticize the United States’ travel ban to eight southern African countries announced by the White House due to concerns over the new variant of the omicron coronavirus.
Gottlieb said that “it is counterproductive in [the] in the short and long term to impose severe travel restrictions on affected countries; undermining current containment efforts, discouraging future sharing. “
Gottlieb added that there is “too much we don’t know to impose economically and socially ruinous policies”
“Ready, fire, the goal is not prudent public health policy. Vaccine and testing requirements for inbound travelers could be cautious,” he said.
“Outright travel bans can do more harm than help,” Gottlieb tweeted.
There is too much we don’t know to impose economically and socially ruinous policies on South Africa and other nations. Ready, fire, goal is not prudent public health policy. Vaccine, testing requirements for inbound travelers could be cautious. Outright travel bans can do more harm than help.
– Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) November 26, 2021
The United States on Friday imposed strict travel restrictions on eight southern African countries – South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi – from Monday as a precautionary measure in light of the new variant of COVID-19.
The World Health Organization held an emergency meeting on Friday in which it identified omicron as a variant of concern, which identifies one as particularly virulent, transmissible or capable of thwarting public health measures.
Several European countries, including France and the UK, have started restricting flights from southern Africa over concerns over the latest variant of COVID-19. The new strain has already been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium, as well as South Africa.
South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday in response to a proposed travel ban in the European Union that the new restrictions were “unwarranted”.