(CMC) – A new epidemiological update on COVID-19 by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), documents a 14 percent increase in cases and a 14 per cent rise in deaths in the Americas, including the Caribbean, from January 15 to February 8.
This increase, however, is lower than in the period from December 11 to January 15, according to the update, released on Thursday.
The document includes a summary of the regional situation and guidance for countries in the region.
It also presents information on the three variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus circulating in the Americas that raise the most concern: SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01 (United Kingdom), 501Y. V2 (South Africa) and B.1.1.2810 (Brazil).
According to the update, 17 countries have so far documented the SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01 variant, four have reported detection of the variant 501Y. V2, and four have detected the variant B.1.1.2810.
The United States is the only country to have reported detection of all three variants, while Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Peru have reported two of them, the document says.
It says the other countries have reported only one of the variants.
The document notes that the occurrence of mutations is a normal process in the evolution of viruses, and that 37 countries and territories of the Americas have documented more than 113,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes since February 2020.
The update explains that variants occur when there are additional mutations that generate differences within a genetic group.
“Having genomic sequencing data can improve the preparedness and response actions of public health systems to any viral disease with epidemic and pandemic potential,” said Sylvain Aldighieri, incident manager for COVID-19 and PAHO Deputy Director of Health Emergencies. “So, we urge all countries in the Americas to strengthen their SARS-CoV-2 sequencing capacity.”