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Tracing origins of COVID-19 should not be politicized: South African official

Countries must refrain from using the tracing of the origins of COVID-19 to score cheap political points, a South African official has said.

"What is important is that COVID-19 should not be used for political point scoring exercises, which is what is happening at the present time," said Anil Sooklal, a deputy director-general at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

He said China must be applauded for its cooperation in tracing the origins of COVID-19.

"We must appreciate that China cooperated with a group of experts when there was an international call to find the origins of COVID-19. China allowed the group of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and gave them access to various sites that they wanted to visit and exchange information with them," he told Xinhua.

According to data released last week from the WHO Regional Office for Africa, the 50 million doses administered in Africa to date account for just 1.6 percent of doses administered globally. Sixteen million, or less than 2 percent of Africans are now fully vaccinated.

"Our focus should be on working and cooperating with each other and not competing with each other to score points," Sooklal said, adding that the international community should focus on "how can we help the developing nations to have access to vaccines and to ensure equal supplies of vaccines and deal with the devastation that continues."

He said it was unfortunate that the virus has been used to "exacerbate tensions" in the world. "We don't support any attempts to point fingers at others," he said.

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