CARPHA suspends testing of new COVID variants


The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago has suspended testing for new variants of COVID-19 in the region, according to Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony.

Dr Anthony, in his daily COVID-19 update on Tuesday, did not reveal when the suspension took effect, or why the testing was suspended but noted that since the first batch of 10 samples was sent from Guyana for testing in January, no other samples were sent.

“CARPHA was offering genetic sequencing and we sent the first 10 samples to them. When we receive the results from those 10 samples, they didn’t find anything of significance. After that, for a little while, they had suspended the genetic sequencing at CARPHA or whatever relationship CARPHA had with the laboratories that were doing the sequencing,” Dr Anthony said.

He further, added: “We weren’t able to send back anything more to CARPHA, they have since notified us that they will be able to do some additional sequencing and once we put all the arrangements in place we will be able to send samples to them,” Dr Anthony said.

CARPHA began conducting genome sequencing for the new variants in December 2020, and according to health experts, the new variants are more transmissible.

According to a statement from CARPHA on March 03, 2021, only the UK variant was detected in several CARICOM countries. No cases of the Brazil or South Africa variant have been detected so far. There is also another variant recently discovered in India.

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony further revealed that Guyana continues to pursue other arrangements with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to send more samples for testing of the new variants to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States.

“We are still finalising details to get the samples up to them,” Dr Anthony said.

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