South Africa’s top adviser to the government on covid-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, announced Thursday that he has resigned as chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on the coronavirus pandemic.
Karim is an epidemiologist, internationally recognised for his research contributions to HIV prevention and treatment. He heads the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in SA at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His area of speciality is clinical infectious diseases.
In a statement available on Twitter (below), he said it had been his singular honour and privilege to have served as the chairperson of the MAC on Covid-19 since March last year and subsequently as co-chair of a revised MAC, established in September. His last day on the job was on Tuesday.
“When I accepted the appointment on 23 March 2020, little did I realise how important science would be in helping our country navigate the complexities of the coronavirus pandemic. It has been most rewarding to work alongside many of our country’s leading scientists from a range of disciplines. South Africa is indeed very fortunate to have so many accomplished scientists in the MAC,” Karim said.
“As the one-year anniversary of my term nears, the time has come for me to return to my HIV research and my academic commitments. I am therefore stepping down from the MAC on Covid-19 (and consequently from the MAC Vaccines as well).”
It has been a singular honour to serve on the MAC alongside exceptional colleagues. After exactly 1 year, the time has come for me to return to my academic commitments. As I leave to refocus on HIV research, I know full well that advice on our Covid-19 response is in safe hands pic.twitter.com/XcnewEYrI3
— Salim & Quarraisha Abdool Karim (@ProfAbdoolKarim) March 25, 2021
Labour of love
Karim said the MAC was well set to continue its good work and rise to the challenges of dealing with Covid-19.
“I have been thoroughly impressed with the skills, dedication and commitment of the MAC members and so I leave knowing full well that advice on our Covid-19 response is in safe hands.
“I wish to pay tribute to my colleagues who served and who continue to serve on the MAC – it is a labour of love, grappling with an avalanche of new information daily – sifting through fact, fiction, conspiracy theories, assumptions and projections to provide science-based advice in the midst of substantial uncertainty.
“I also wish to acknowledge the significant contributions and expertise of the MAC secretariat who worked tirelessly behind the scenes providing invaluable support.”
He said the pandemic had posed many challenges and hardships, but also provided an opportunity to develop the country’s capacity to deal with future pandemics.
“I am humbled to have had the opportunity to make some small contribution to this process,” Karim – coronavirus.