During South Africa’s COVID-19 hard lockdown, rising star scientist Dr Sandile Cele spent his Christmas holidays in a laboratory. Soon the 35-year-old became the first to successfully grow the beta variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the lab. Biénne Huisman spoke to Cele about how he did this, the string of accolades he received since, and his leap from a modest upbringing to the global scientific stage.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the remarkable power of genomics in helping us keep track of new viral variants. Several scientists argue that Africa should continue to invest in genomics to support disease control and public health. Sue Segar asks what this means in practice and why it is considered so critically important.
South African bioinformatics expert Professor Tulio de Oliveira was recently honoured with Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people award. Biénne Huisman sat down with him to talk about his part in the discovery of new COVID-19 variants, his chats with the President, and the treasure trove of scientific research excellence in Africa.