MEXICO CITY, August 12, 2021, (Reuters).- The Delta variant of the coronavirus is “highly worrisome” as the mutation has spread to nearly two dozen countries across the Americas, officials with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) told reporters on Wednesday, August 11.
Meanwhile, health officials are keeping close tabs on another variant known as Lambda, but uneven detection across the region has yet to cause a major impact.
Delta’s growing spread in the United States and most of Latin America and the Caribbean should cause governments to prioritize prevention efforts like masking and especially a faster pace of vaccinations, according to PAHO Director Carissa Etienne.
“This is disturbing because cases seem to spread more easily with the Delta variant and we can’t afford to let our guard down,” she said.
PAHO is the Americas office for the U.N.-affiliated World Health Organization.
Etienne added that barely 18% of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated to date.
She also mentioned the faster spread of COVID-19 cases in North America, especially in southern and eastern parts of the United States and parts of central Mexico.
Menos del 20 % de las personas en América Latina y el Caribe han sido completamente inmunizadas contra la covid-19 y en algunos casos ese porcentaje es menor del 5 %, advirtió la directora de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS), Carissa Etienne. https://t.co/rq5L6g7zj3— EFE Noticias (@EFEnoticias) August 11, 2021
The PAHO chief also highlighted growth in new infections in Guatemala, Brazil, and Cuba.
Even as other variants like Alfa and Gamma are still more common across the Americas, the Lambda variant has recently been detected in hard-hit South American countries, including Argentina and Peru, as well as Chile and Ecuador, according to PAHO COVID-19 Incident Manager Sylvain Aldighieri.
“Lambda is a variant we’re interested in and Delta is a variant that is highly worrisome,” he said.
“Right now, we don’t have evidence that allows us to infer more aggressive or severe behavior from the Lambda variant, although it may have a higher transmission capacity,” he added.
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