Dr Sikhulile Moyo, one of Zimbabwe’s top scientists has been honoured for his groundbreaking work in discovering the Omicron SARS-Cov-2 variant, and for that feat, he was named in Times Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People for 2022.

The Omicron SARS-Cov-2 variant became the dominant virulent Covid-19 pandemic strain globally.

Together with Brazil’s Professor Tulio de Oliveira, Dr Moyo made the list of Time magazine’s world’s 100 most influential people.

The Brazilian-born Professor Tulio de Oliveira is a permanent resident of South Africa, a professor of bioinformatics, holding a joint appointment at Stellenbosch University’s (SU) School for Data Science and Computational Thinking, the faculty of science and the faculty of medicine and health sciences.

Moyo obtained his PhD in medical virology at Stellenbosch University in 2016 and serves as the laboratory director at the Botswana Harvard Aids Institute Partnership (BHP).

The two scientists led the multidisciplinary team who discovered the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in November 2021.

Dr Moyo called for international collaboration in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The only way we can succeed is by collaborating and continuously sharing ideas. Success in science comes through genuine collaboration.

“Working with leading scientists at Stellenbosch such as Prof De Oliveira and the Network for Genomic Surveillance in SA has been so fulfilling for me, and has exposed me to so much great, transparent science and capacity building.”

A native of Zimbabwe, Dr Sikhulile Moyo moved to Botswana after completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Zimbabwe, Harare, in 1996. He started working at the Botswana Harvard Partnership as a Lab Assistant in 2003 and was promoted to Laboratory Coordinator, then Deputy Lab Manager, and then to his current position as Lab Manager.

He holds Master’s degrees in Applied Microbiology and Public Health and a PhD in Medical Virology from Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

For his thesis, “Evolutionary trends and dynamics of HIV-1C in Botswana,” he used new molecular and serological methods to identify and characterize early founder viruses.

In addition to his position at BHP, Moyo is also a research associate of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and an adjunct senior lecturer at the University of Botswana.

He has been serving as a member of Botswana’s Covid-19 presidential task force and continues to contribute to that country’s national response. online.