Guyana still waiting on results from CARPHA on new variants


Almost a month after 10 samples were sent for testing of the new COVID-19 variants at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana is yet to receive the results.

These samples were sent to CARPHA for gene sequencing as Guyana does not have the capacity to conduct this type of testing. Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, during his daily COVID-19 update on Tuesday, explained that gene sequencing is a lengthy and complicated process and so Guyana just has to wait on confirmation on whether any of the new variants are here.

“I guess CARPHA needs time to do the sequencing, really we are not sure, we have sent it and we await the results. When you finish the sequencing also you have to interpret the sequencing that you have done and that also requires some time to do,” the Health Minister explained.

There are three major variants that are concerning; the first one was discovered in the United Kingdom in November last year and is now circulating in 80 countries. Another variant was discovered in South Africa in early October 2020 and is now circulating in more than 40 countries, while in neighbouring Brazil, another variant was discovered and has been confirmed in 10 countries.

Experts have found that these new variants are more transmissible.

“To understand what variants are circulating, we would have to do gene sequencing and we have sent 10 samples to CARPHA in January for them to assist us in the sequencing of those samples.

“As of now, we cannot conclusively say that we have one variant or another until we get back those results,” Dr Anthony emphasised.

Meanwhile, he noted that the government is still working out arrangements with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to send more samples for testing of the new variants to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States.

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