Health discovers UK coronavirus variant in Guatemala and this is how it arrived in the country – Prensa Libre

Coronavirus cases are on the rise in Guatemala. (Free press photo: Agence France-Presse)

At a time when Guatemala adds 240,170 cases of coronavirus, health authorities warned on Friday, May 14 that the British variant is already in the country, so it is being investigated if it is linked to the increase in transmission in the past days.

Amelia Flores, Minister of Health, has confirmed, at a press conference, that the new strain has been detected in Guatemala.

Meanwhile, Lorena Goburn, head of the Department of Health’s Department of Epidemiology, said: “The results were notified on May 12 of a patient who had traveled to the United States in March. On April 7, symptoms appeared on a person in contact with him and samples were taken. The sequence is on a special level and it was determined that it is a UK variant. “

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He added that the presence of this strain raises their concern and health measures should be increased. This type of coronavirus is known to be highly contagious, but experts say current vaccines will have the same effect on this mutation.

The epidemiologist added that “this alternative has been classified by the World Health Organization as of concern.”

Additionally, he said they are studying whether the increase in cases and morbidity in recent days is related to the new variant.

“We want to emphasize prevention measures that should continue to prevail in the population. These variables are being identified all over the world and could lead to an increase in disease transmission and disease severity,” he said.

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Variables of concern

A month ago, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (MSPAS) reported that the National Health Laboratory had carried out operations to detect the three variants of SARS-CoV-2 classified by the Pan American Health Organization as “variants of concern”, including the Brazilian strain, the Kingdom strain The United States, Northern Ireland and South Africa.

“Variables of concern are those variants that have been classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to their high level of transmissibility and increased virulence. They can cause a decrease in the effectiveness of vaccines and treatments against COVID-19, according to MSPAS.

Alicia Chang, vice president of the Guatemalan Society of Infectious Diseases (AGEI), commented that in some countries medical personnel have noted that variants from Brazil and the United Kingdom can cause young patients to develop pneumonia or clots within the lungs.

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However, Zhang says these are preliminary observations that have been made and that scientific studies have yet to confirm whether the virus variants are more aggressive towards young people.

The SARS-Cove-2 mutations are the most contagious and aggressive among young adults, according to early medical hypotheses.

There are symptoms of the disease that are more pronounced in older people with pre-existing diseases, but these strains seem to have the potential for these symptoms to appear in younger people as well. We still don’t have consistent information in this regard, but it is a wake-up call for us to maintain preventive measures. There are very few people who are vaccinated and within this there are no young people. “This is not the time to let our guard down,” said Zhang.

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In 37 countries of America

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

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.

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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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