HEROES 7: Slim Karim and SA’s scientists – bringing light to a dark time

Slim Karim

They’ve all been heroes and heroines, South Africa’s medics.

South Africa’s store of knowledge about infectious diseases was built up fighting another pandemic, that of HIV/Aids.

And it was reflected in the quality of scientists and medics who made up South Africa’s Covid ministerial advisory committee.

The chair, Professor Salim “Slim” Abdool Karim, has been celebrated internationally.

In December he got the John Maddox Prize 2020 along with Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious diseases expert. The prize is for advancing “sound science” in public. 

Fauci had to deal with President Donald Trump’s lies and conspiracy theories about Covid.

Karim and his colleagues had an easier time pushing “sound science” in SA.

But they also crossed swords with the hardliners in the SA government who seemed to enjoy the power of the lockdown – and some of the illogical rules that went with it like the ban on smoking.

Some of Karim’s colleagues, like Glenda Gray and Francois Venter, were particularly brave in how outspoken they were about the loopy bits of the lockdown.