Prof. Tulio De Oliveria

Prof. Tulio De Oliveria


African scientists rarely get the recognition they deserve on the global stage, Professor Tulio de Oliveira, who led South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, has told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

He was one of the scientists who identified the Omicron variant in November 2021.

He expected praise for the discovery by South African experts, but instead the announcement earned the country a travel ban.

“African scientists in general, in the past hundreds of years, never got the recognition that they deserve,” said Prof Oliveira, who is the director of South Africa’s Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation.

He said that the continent was just as prepared as other parts of the world to deal with the outbreak of infectious diseases.

“We have very advanced systems, advanced labs and we also have advanced researchers.”

So far, two African countries – Ghana and Morocco – have introduced new travel restrictions on passengers from China amidst a spike of Covid-19 infections in the country.

Listen to the full interview here: African scientist reflects on Omricon discovery

It was part of a special edition of Focus on Africa guest-edited by South Africa’s former Public Protector Prof Thuli Madonsela.

Editorial Chief, Nigerian Bureau

Kings UBA is a Nigerian journalist and writer. I have reported for major local and international news organisations. I write satire. In 2017, I started contributing stories primarily to Discover Africa News Network. I can be reached on I currently manage Discover Africa News social media handles