PAHO: Covid19 variants still spreading in Americas

PAHO director Dr Carissa F Etienne
PAHO director Dr Carissa F Etienne

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported on Wednesday that the four variants of concern of covid19 are still spreading in the Americas.

Dr Carissa Etienne, director of PAHO, said in a virtual press conference the alpha variant has been detected in 47 countries, gamma (Brazilian) in 31, and beta and delta in 20 nations, the latter being the most contagious.

Etienne said: “Many countries are seeing two or three different variants in internal circulation. The data indicate delta may have a 60 per cent higher contagion (rate), so public health measures cannot be relaxed."

She said PAHO continues to work with Covax to ensure 20 per cent of the population of the Americas is vaccinated by the end of 2021.

But, she said, “It is insufficient. The revolving fund is implementing efforts to get more vaccines from countries with greater availability.”

Dr Jarbas Barbosa deputy director of PAHO, said some vaccines are already in phase III studies for use in adolescents, while for pregnant women they are already classed as safe, although scientists continue to evaluate them.

On people who continue to refuse vaccines, Barbosa insisted the real message must be taken to the population to face the disinformation campaign being run in various countries.

“We believe the most correct thing is to give the information to the public. We are not facing a common and current vaccination, we are facing a pandemic and there are many groups carrying false information about vaccines.

"And that is why it is important that governments share real information and guarantee we can save lives and continue to advance the economic stability of each country.”

Barbosa explained the recent increase in cases in the United States is due to the unvaccinated, and not to people who have already received their full doses.

"The protection of vaccines is twofold – first for yourself and then to avoid infecting your close relatives. You must be vaccinated for these two reasons."

As of Wednesday, only two Caribbean countries have not reported cases of covid19 to PAHO, while the rest report community transmission.

This week PAHO reported more than 1.2 million cases and 29,000 deaths from covid19 in the Americas.

Argentina, Ecuador and Cuba are the countries with the most infections, including more than 7,000 young people and 400 pregnant women.

“As covid19 continues to advance, many countries have relaxed their health measures, and only 16.6 per cent of the population of the Americas have been vaccinated,” said Etienne.

PAHO is also concerned about the decrease in attention to other essential health services such as routine immunisations.

Etienne highlighted a considerable drop in measles vaccines in children.


"PAHO: Covid19 variants still spreading in Americas"

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