BRASILIA, May 13 (Reuters) - The four most worrying coronavirus variants have been detected in virtually all countries and territories of the Americas, but although they are more transmissible there is no evidence they are more lethal, a World Health Organization expert said on Thursday.
The vaccines that are being administered in the region do provide more protection against the variants, Jairo Mendez, a WHO infectious diseases expert said in a webinar by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
"What we still do not know is whether fully vaccinated people who do not become ill can still spread the virus to others. We have a lot to learn," Mendez said.
The newest variant, the Indian B.1.617 variant, has been detected in cases in eight countries of the Americas, including Canada and the United States, he said.
One case is under investigation, and others with the variants were travelers in Panama and Argentina who had arrived from India or Europe. In the Caribbean, cases of the Indian variant have been detected in Aruba, Dutch St Maarten and the French department of Guadeloupe.
The B.117 prevalent in the United Kingdom has been found in cases reported in 34 countries or territories in the Americas, while the South African variant B.1.351 has been reported in 17.
Brazil's so-called Manaus variant P.1 has so far been detected in 21 countries, the WHO expert said.
"These variants have a greater capacity for transmission, but so far we have not found any collateral consequences," Mendez said. "The only worry is that they spread faster."
The variants are associated with higher mortality due to the increased number of cases of COVID-19 but not because the virus has mutated into a more lethal version, he said.
Add Chart to Comment
We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:
- Enrich the conversation
- Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
- Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
- Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
- NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
- Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
- Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
- Only English comments will be allowed.
Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.