PAHO director Dr Carissa Etienne –
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday the Americas are the region most affected by covid19.
Dr Carissa Etienne, director of PAHO, was speaking at the weekly covid19 webinar, and said this week marks two years since the start of the pandemic.
Etienne said six million people have died worldwide and the Americas, with more than 2.6 million lives lost, have the highest death toll in the world.
“This is a pandemic of enormous proportions,” Etienne said, adding, “There are long-term health impacts and early studies show the survivors can suffer from future illnesses.”
During the last week, 1.1 million cases were registered, a drop of 26 per cent, and 18,000 deaths were reported.
Some countries continue to register increases. In the Caribbean, cases rose by two per cent.
In the first two months of 2022, more than 50 per cent of the global total cases were in the Americas, with more than 200,000 deaths in this period.
“We must prepare ourselves for outbreaks or the appearance of new variants. Certainly covid19 is here to stay and we must learn to live with it,” she said.
Up to this week, only 14 countries had reached vaccination coverage of 70 per cent of their population. PAHO reported 248 million people in the Caribbean have not yet received covid19 vaccines.
Dr Jarbas Barbosa, deputy director of PAHO, said there will be no difficulty in distributing vaccines and syringes acquired through the revolving fund in the region as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine.
“So far no vaccine used by PAHO has been manufactured in Russia or Ukraine,” he said.
Dr Ciro Ugarte, director of PAHO health emergencies, said it is still too early to determine the guidelines and recommendations to follow for next summer and the increase in travellers.
“You have to follow the current guidelines. We do not yet know what may happen in the coming months and the appearance of new variants – but we need to continue to approach the pandemic with great care and vigilance,” he said.