It is possible that Brazil ‘P1’ variant in Guyana but vaccination offers protection – Health Minister

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Weeks after an advisor at Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Jairo Mendez-Rico, indicated that the P.1 variant of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was detected in Guyana, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony said that the Ministry still does not have scientific evidence to confirm this, but it is still a possibility.

Speaking at the sidelines of an event, the Health Minister explained that it is expected that viruses will mutate and spread and as such, variants will arise.

Based on the epidemiological information that the local health authorities have managed to collect over the past few months, which indicates that there is a higher rate of transmission and a more severe form of the disease, Dr. Anthony said that there is some variant of the coronavirus circulating in Guyana.

“In South America, most countries now would have P1 variant circulating, it is just the nature of these mutations but at that when (the PAHO announcement) was done, it just caught us by surprise,” Dr. Anthony said on Monday.

When questioned further about his statement and if that means there is a possibility that the variant may be in Guyana, he answered: “I don’t have the scientific evidence but there is that possibility.”

Meanwhile, the Health Minister said that Guyana has only sent 10 COVID-19 samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for genetic analysis of which none were variants of concern. As such, he reasoned that there is no scientific evidence proving that there is a variant in Guyana.

“We will continue to work with CARPHA to see whether or not we can get gene sequencing (the genetic analysis), but at this point, despite that, we are still making sure that we can treat and work with patients and tell people to take the public health measures (and) in all of this the best way to prevent this is vaccination, so we have to keep working on those as well,” Minister Anthony said.

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