Disturbing variants of covid-19 have been discovered in America

POR Agence France-Presse

One or more of the four variants of covid-19 that cause health concern have so far been detected in 37 countries and territories in the Americas.The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said Friday.

This includes mutations that were first identified in the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa and India.

Of these, the most prevalent in the region is the type known as the British variant, found in 34 US countries and territories, followed by the Brazilian variant at 21, the South African variant at 17, and the Indian variant at eight.

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The five countries in which the four variables of concern were identified are Argentina, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Panama. Added to this group is Aruba, a Dutch territory in the Caribbean.

During a seminar with journalists, Jero Mendes Rico, a Pan American Health Organization advisor on emerging viral diseases, said that mutations are natural in the process of virus evolution and adaptation.

However, when they have a potential impact or risk on public health, they are considered a variable of concern (VOC).

VOCs are associated with an increase in virus transmissibility, as well as an increase in virulence and / or a decrease in the effectiveness of prevention measures, treatment and vaccines.

Mendes Rico explained that a greater reproducibility of these variants does not necessarily imply greater aggressiveness, and noted that so far there is no evidence that currently available vaccines are not effective against them.

He stressed, however, that the more viruses spread in the population, the greater the possibility of new mutations that make the epidemic more difficult to control.

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The Pan American Health Organization is conducting genome surveillance to track down variants. Currently, 22 countries participate in that network.

Six regional reference laboratories collaborate in sequence: Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil, Institute of Public Health in Chile, InDRE in Mexico, Institute of Gorgas in Panama, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States (CDC), and University of the West Indies in Trinidad And Tobago.

The members of the Pan American Health Organization, the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO), represent 35 countries in the Americas and 16 territories in the region associated with or dependent on the United States, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

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