– CARPHA advises continuing testing, entry requirements
Guyana MP is awaiting lab results that will confirm if variants of the virus, COVID-19 have been imported, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has stressed that Caribbean countries are at “very high” risk of import the three known variants even with travel protocols and requirements in place.
Currently, the three variations of concern are: the B.1.1.7 variant, or more commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) variant; the B.1.351 or South African variant; and the B.1.1.28 variant found in Brazil.
All three variants have been found to be more transmissible, meaning they can easily infect more people. Only the variation in the UK, the first to be discovered by a type of genetic analysis called genomic sequencing, has been found in the Caribbean (in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Lucia) until this.
In a progress report published on January 25, CARPHA highlighted, “Even with country travel protocols and requirements in place, there is a very High risk of the [UK variant], the [South Africa variant] and the [Brazilian variant] being imported into the Caribbean, given travel from the UK, Europe and South America. “
Many countries have imposed travel restrictions from the UK, South Africa and South America all in an effort to halt the spread of these new variants. And in light of the evolving situation, CARPHA confirmed that “It remains essential that travel guidelines, including tests and other entry requirements, remain”.
The Brazilian variant was first identified in December 2020, in Manaus, Brazil. Given Guyana’s proximity to Brazil and the permeable border between the two countries, health authorities have been on the alert. Although Guyana cannot conduct genomic sequencing, to define the variants, on its own, it has been engaging with CARPHA to secure these services.
A local private organization, the Eureka Medical Laboratories Inc., has identified possible variations in the UK, but this will only be confirmed after CARPHA returns its lab results to Guyana.
On Tuesday, in an invited comment, the former Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO / WHO) Country Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow concerns about importing the variants.
“The idea is that the vaccines can cover all of these types but now they say the strain is more ferocious, that is, they are more potent. We need to worry more, ”Dr. Adu-Krow.
Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony, recently told the Guyana Chronicle that vaccines are the “exit strategy” for the pandemic. Importantly, he also noted that the variants indicate prospects for re-infection of people previously diagnosed with the ‘normal’ variant or strain of COVID-19.
Aware of the developments with the variants, Dr. Adu Krow with individuals to take the COVID-19 vaccines once available.
“With the emergence and spread of at least three identified COVID-19 variants, there is an increasing prospect of redefining with specific variants and possibly less efficacy of current, vaccine-based vaccines,” CARPHA noted, adding: the virus itself and a pandemic situation remain in flux, the introduction of the vaccine will continue with approved COVID-19 vaccines. Field investigations into vaccine efficacy for these variants are currently underway. ”
However, during an interview earlier this month, WHO Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biology, Dr. Kate O’Brien, “It is not felt that the types of changes seen in these variants are likely to alter the effect of the vaccines …”.