Richard Marlink, director of the Rutgers Global Health Institute, is available to discuss the Omicron variant, which has now been detected in the United States, and the need for more health equity across the world in helping to fight the pandemic.

"The travel bans are harsh examples of the unethical and, quite frankly, ridiculous decisions that continue to undermine our global unity in battling this pandemic," said Marlink who is also a professor of medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "For all the talk of following the science, what this amounts to is the opposite." 

"Banning travel from southern African countries when the Omicron variant is already spreading here shows a total lack of evidence-based decision-making. And these restrictions could have a chilling effect on global collaboration and scientific transparency when it comes to releasing public health information because national governments may not want to risk the potential economic and social consequences that could result from intrusive restrictions such as these travel bans. This is yet another misstep that's widening the health equity gap around the world. And the wider that gets, the worse off we all are."

Marlink's team helped establish the national HIV reference laboratory with Harvard in Botswana, where scientists recently sequenced and first described the Omicron variant, followed by colleagues in Durban and elsewhere in South Africa. He has also done extensive work across Africa to help combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.


About RBHS

Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) takes an integrated approach to educating students, providing clinical care and conducting research, all with the goal of improving human health. Aligned with Rutgers University–New Brunswick, and collaborating university-wide, RBHS includes eight schools, a behavioral health network and four centers and institutes. RBHS offers an outstanding education in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, public health, nursing, biomedical research and the full spectrum of allied health careers. RBHS clinical and academic facilities are located throughout the state.