Washington, D.C. March 26, 2021 (PAHO)—The Pan American Well being Group (PAHO) stated 32 international locations and territories within the Americas have reported the presence of not less than one of many three “variants of concern” of the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, in line with a brand new Epidemiological Replace.
These variants could enhance transmissibility of the virus, enhance its virulence, or lower the effectiveness of public well being and social measures or diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics, though a lot stays to be realized about them.
Present measures to cut back transmission – together with frequent hand washing, carrying a masks, bodily distancing, good air flow and avoiding crowded locations or closed settings – proceed to work towards new variants by decreasing the quantity of viral transmission and due to this fact additionally decreasing alternatives for the virus to mutate.
The international locations and territories that reported a number of of those variants embody Argentina, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bonaire, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Saint Lucia, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, United States of America, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
For the reason that preliminary identification of SARS-CoV-2, greater than 845,000 full genomic sequences have been shared globally by way of publicly accessible databases. “The capability to observe the info in close to actual time has a direct affect on the general public well being response to the COVID-19 pandemic, permitting to establish adjustments in epidemiological patterns, in virulence, or within the lower in therapeutic efficacy, amongst different adjustments,” the PAHO replace famous.
Thus far, three variants of SARS-CoV-2, first recognized in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil and often called B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and B.220.127.116.11, have been categorised by the World Well being Group (WHO) as variants of concern (VOC), in session with the WHO Working Group on the Evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Variants in one other class, variants of curiosity, overlaying three extra varieties, have been reported in Brazil, the USA, and 6 different international locations and territories.
PAHO’s replace stated, “Given the numerous useful resource necessities wanted to sequence all samples within the area to establish variants, PAHO continues to work intently with laboratories within the international locations of the Americas to assist establish samples which must be prioritized for genomic sequencing.”
Thus far, 21 international locations are collaborating within the COVID-19 Genomic Surveillance Community, with reference sequencing laboratories in Brazil and Chile. PAHO is working along with the international locations of the area to develop and strengthen the regional community, as this mechanism will probably be important to monitoring the unfold or look of latest variants of concern. PAHO can also be supporting epidemiological research in Brazil to grasp the patterns of transmission, reinfection, and the severity of instances from the completely different circulating variants.