Authorities engaging PAHO on presence of Covid-19 variants in Guyana

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With the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) recently indicating that the Brazilian variant (P.1) is circulating in Guyana, the Health Ministry has now engaged the agency for information on this disclosure.

Advisor on emerging viral diseases at PAHO, Dr Jairo Mendez-Rico had claimed during a webinar for journalists that the more contagious Brazilian variant of the novel coronavirus is present in Guyana.

When asked about this during today’s Covid-19 update, Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony said the government is unaware of such news, and has since asked PAHO to submit a report.

“We don’t know what are the different types of variants, if there is any that is circulating in Guyana because from the limited amount of gene-sequencing that was done on ten samples, we were not able to identify any such variant like P1 or anyone of the others. So this is really news to us,” Dr Anthony said.

“I have since ask PAHO for a report pertaining to this disclosure and we are awaiting PAHO’s response,” he added.

The four variants of concern include those that originated in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and India.

The PAHO representative had noted that they can increase in lethality or change in clinical patterns that could affect control measures, including vaccines.

For variants to be detected, samples need to undergo genomic sequencing to examine the strain.

Guyana has only sent ten samples to CARPHA, which returned negative for variant presence last February. The Health Ministry has since been unsuccessful in sending more samples to other agencies.

“Getting genetic sequencing is not an easy process and we continue to try to work with agencies that can get this done for us but so far we have not succeeded in getting samples to these agencies,” the Health Minister explained.