During a virtual press conference, PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne enlightened that as many as 1.1 million new Covid-19 infections and 30,000 deaths were reported in the region during last week.
Dr. Etienne recalled that almost from the very beginning of the pandemic, the Americas became the epicenter of the outbreak.
She provided reassurance about the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines despite the spread in the Americas of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
‘So far, PAHO has found that the impact of variants of concern on the effectiveness of vaccines for Covid-19 has been minimal,’ Dr. Etienne told reporters at her weekly media briefing.
However, variants increase the need to improve access to vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean, she added. ‘Very few places are benefiting from the full potential of vaccines as there is a huge access gap in our region,’ she said. ‘This is unacceptable, and the emergence of variants makes it even more urgent that we accelerate supply to the places with the highest transmission.’
She added that PAHO has been tracking COVID-19 virus variants since June 2020, when it created the Genomic Surveillance Regional Network. The network has shared more than 52,000 viral sequences from Latin America and the Caribbean and continues to monitor variants of concern in 43 countries and territories that have detected the Alpha variant.
So far, 18 countries have reported cases of the Beta variant; 29 countries have reported cases of the Gamma variant, and 14 have reported cases of the Delta variant, including Argentina, Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Chile, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA, Barbados, Peru and Sint Maarten, Dr. Etienne detailed.
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