Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa F. Etienne has given the assurance that COVID-19 vaccines are effective, despite circulation in the Americas of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease.
“So far, PAHO has found that the impact of variants of concern on the effectiveness of vaccines for COVID-19 has been minimal,” Dr. Etienne told reporters at her weekly media briefing.
However, she asserted that variants increase the need to improve access to vaccines in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Very few places are benefiting from the full potential of vaccines as there is a huge access gap in our region,” she said.
“This is unacceptable, and the emergence of variants makes it even more urgent that we accelerate supply to the places with the highest transmission,” the PAHO Director stated.
She added that PAHO has been tracking COVID-19 virus variants since June 2020, when it created the Genomic Surveillance Regional Network.
The network has shared more than 52,000 viral sequences from Latin America and the Caribbean and continues to monitor variants of concern in 43 countries and territories that have detected the Alpha variant.
So far, 18 countries have reported cases of the Beta variant; 29 countries have reported cases of the Gamma variant, and 14 have reported cases of the Delta variant, including Argentina, Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Chile, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA, Barbados, Peru and Sint Maarten, Dr. Etienne disclosed.