By Ashok Ramsarup :: South African renowned epidemiologist Professor Salim Abdool Karim has jointly been awarded the distinguished John Maddox Prize 2020 for promoting science and informing the public of the deadly COVID-19 virus that’s wreaking havoc around the world.
Prof Abdool Karim, who is the Director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and Chairperson of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee and American Physician and Immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a key scientist on the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, were jointly honoured in a virtual reception.
The John Maddox Award, which was established in 2012, is a joint initiative of the charity Sense about science and the scientific journal Nature, honours researchers who have shown great courage and integrity in standing up for science and scientific reasoning against fierce opposition and hostility.
Latest reports show that American President Donald Trump does not have time for science. His handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, his repeated public dismissals of scientific expertise and his disregard for evidence have prompted many researchers to level him the most anti-science in living memory.
Dr Fauci strongly believes that the virus behind the pandemic was not made in a laboratory in China. He also shot down the discussion that had been raging among politicians.
Prof Abdool Karim said he was deeply honoured to receive the prize jointly with Dr Fauci during the height of the pandemic. He said providing scientific data and advice on Covid-19 in the midst of uncertainty and anxiety proved to be a difficult and challenging task. He said: “It is important to stay true to the available scientific evidence without bending to ideology or vested interests.”
The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) has heaped huge praises on Prof Abdool Karim for achieving the award. ASSAF said: “Through his engagement on COVID-19 with stakeholders nationally, continentally, and globally, Professor Abdool Karim has ensured that the public is kept abreast on the course and impacts of the SARS-Cov-2 virus always based on the best scientific evidence available.
“He has been an amazing ambassador for evidence-based science and science communication with politicians, policymakers, scientists, and the general public; in the process, he has done
to advance the mandate and objectives of the Academy of Science of South Africa,” ASSAF added.
The South African Medical Association noted the John Maddox Prize bestowed upon Prof Abdool Karim for standing up for science along with Dr Fauci. SAMA said it was an unique award that spoke volumes about professionalism and dedication during an extremely difficult time in the country.