Ramaphosa congratulates Abdool Karim on winning John Maddox Prize

Karim is one of the country's top scientists and he chairs the ministerial advisory committee on COVID-19.

Infectious disease specialist Professor Salim Abdool Karim. Picture: @UKZN/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has on Thursday congratulated epidemiologist professor Salim Abdool Karim for being awarded this year's John Maddox Prize for standing up for science during the coronavirus pandemic.

Karim is one of the country's top scientists and he chairs the ministerial advisory committee on COVID-19.

He was on Monday recognised for going beyond the call of duty as government's health advisor.

“As an advisor in official forums and as an ambassador for science, Prof Karim has richly influenced our response to this pandemic, and enabled public understanding of COVID-19 through his clear and endearing communication of the science behind this global challenge to human health,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.

Karim shares the award with American physician and immunologist Anthony Fauci - who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

In a statement released by charity Sense about Science and scientific journal Nature earlier this week, the two were celebrated for their contribution to understanding the global pandemic.

"They communicated the complex and changing science of COVID-19 to the public and policymakers, in the midst of international uncertainty and anxiety," the statement read.

Speaking on Karim, the statement read: "He has a reputation for clear and honest communication, something that has allowed him to generate public trust in fast-moving science. Respected for his international science advocacy, engaging with the media and the public has become integral to his role as a scientist."

Now in its ninth year, the John Maddox Prize honours one or two people for standing up for sound science in public.

This year, during the coronavirus outbreak that has gripped the world, it received over 100 nominations from 34 countries.

Karim was one of the first scientists who spoke out against Aids denialism.

He also guided the public trough the science of Aids during a time when those at odds with government's position were labelled "enemies of the state".

The president also congratulated professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim - the globally acclaimed HIV and Aids researcher and epidemiologist who is also the wife of Karim - on their shared receipt of the Chilean government’s 500 Years of the Strait of Magellan Award.

With this award, Chile honours innovators who, through their research or actions, have contributed to providing solutions to global needs.

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