PAHO asked to clarify listing of Guyana as country with COVID-19 variant
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Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony
Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony

–Health Minister maintains no variant detected locally

FOLLOWING reports that the P.1 variant of COVID-19, which is said to have originated in Brazil, is in Guyana, local authorities have written to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) seeking answers as to why the country was listed among nations which recorded this variant, when recent lab results have shown otherwise.
Advisor on emerging viral diseases at the PAHO, Dr. Jairo Mendez-Rico, during a PAHO webinar on COVID-19 variants, had listed Guyana as one of the countries in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region where the P.1 variant is present. The Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, while responding to questions from the News Room during his COVID-19 update on Thursday, disclosed however that from the sample submitted by Guyana to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing, no variants were detected.

“The only way you can determine if there is a variant in any country is that you have to do genomic sequencing; as you know we would have sent samples to CARPHA sometime earlier in the year, we sent 10 samples – [in] none of those 10 samples we have seen anything that resembles a variant,” he said.
In January of this year, the samples were sent to CARPHA to identify whether these samples are newer variants of the coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony explained that the results from CARPHA have indicated that the only variant present in Guyana is the variant that was circulating from before.
The Health Minister noted that the ministry is yet to receive clarification on where PAHO gathered the information that the P.1 variant is present in Guyana.
“Those are the only 10 samples that we are aware of went to a lab for sequencing; where PAHO probably got its information, I don’t know, and that’s what we are seeking to clarify: how they arrive at this conclusion that Guyana has variants circulating,” he said.

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