“If we continue to be diligent, we have the power to control this virus. If you relax, there is no doubt. 2021 could be much worse than 2020.
Washington DC (PAHO) — Continue public health measures as new variants of the COVID-19 virus emerge in several countries in the Americas and the spread of the virus is accelerating in almost every country in the Americas. Is important. Carisa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, said today about social distance, wearing masks, and frequent hand washing.
“Our collective ability to catch up with these measures has the power to set the course for this year. If we remain diligent, we have the power to control this virus. If you relax, 2021 may definitely be much worse than 2020. ”
She states: “Since this pandemic began, more than 39 million people in the Americas have been infected with COVID-19, of which more than 925,000 have been infected with the virus. Last week alone, 2.5 million people in our region were COVID. Infected -19. This is the most common weekly case since the virus first reached our shores.
PAHO’s genomics surveillance network of 21 laboratories is tracking the spread of viruses and mutations, with the first mutants found to circulate in the UK in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, and It has been reported in eight countries, Jamaica and Mexico. , Peru, and the United States. In addition, Brazil and Canada report seeing another variant first reported in South Africa.
“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that these variants have different effects on patients, but early data show that the virus spreads more easily and goes to our healthcare system when it is already approaching volume. It suggests that it could accelerate the threat of the virus, “said Etienne.
To date, one vaccine has been approved by WHO and more are in progress. Some countries in the region have begun vaccination of health care workers and vulnerable groups, but “as long as doses are limited, relying on vaccination to flatten the pandemic curve I can’t, “she said.
PAHO’s priorities for 2021 include protective equipment for healthcare professionals, medication and hospital care as needed, and ensuring fair access to vaccines.
“With the advent of vaccines, we need to ensure that doses are not only produced quickly, but delivered fairly and quickly to all countries, regardless of income. This is global. And local cooperation and solidarity are needed, and donors market their resources through mechanisms such as the COVAX facility, “said the director.
PAHO is working with all countries in the Americas to help them ensure the vaccine doses they need to protect their populations. “We also provide support for vaccine demand planning, logistics and cold chain management, enhanced monitoring and information systems, training of healthcare professionals, vaccine communication planning and more,” said Etienne.
“Fortunately, our region has a strong heritage of vaccination,” she emphasized, through the PAHO Revolving Fund, “Member States to procure vaccines and related products at the lowest prices. COVID is a challenge, but I believe we can meet by working together. “
Over the next year, political leaders will face difficult choices to flatten the transmission curve. Leaders need to act transparently and proactively so that the public can understand their decisions and the scientific evidence that supports them.
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