Pandemic “far from controlled” in the Americas: OPS

Pandemic “far from controlled” in the Americas: OPS

COVID-19 infections are skyrocketing in the Americas, with intensive care unit (ICU) beds in some countries almost 100% occupied and the region facing new variants and an insufficient supply of vaccines.
During a weekly press briefing on Wednesday, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Carissa Etienne, said that the surge in infections and widespread deaths – 40% of COVID deaths worldwide reported the last week were in the Americas – putting enormous strain on health systems.

“In our region, nearly 80% of the beds in our intensive care units are filled with COVID patients and the numbers are even more dire in some places,” Etienne said during the virtual briefing.

Etienne a déclaré qu’au Chili et au Pérou, 95% des lits de l’unité de soins intensifs sont occupés. À Buenos Aires, la capitale de l’Argentine, 96 pour cent des USI sont en service et certaines régions du Brésil ont des «listes d’attente pour les lits en USI».

Le ministre colombien de la Santé, Fernando Ruiz, a déclaré mercredi que le taux d’occupation des unités de soins intensifs dans la capitale, Bogota, approche les 100%, avec près de 500 patients devant être admis.

«Chaque cluster crée un risque pour lequel nous n’avons plus la capacité», a-t-il déclaré dans un tweet.

Une femme recevant une dose du vaccin russe Spoutnik V à La Paz, en Bolivie [File: Manuel Claure/Reuters]

Etienne said that last week the Americas reported more than 1.2 million new cases of coronavirus and nearly 34,000 deaths.

“Almost 40 percent of all deaths worldwide reported last week occurred right here in the Americas,” Etienne said.

“This is a clear sign that transmission is far from controlled in our region,” she said.

The outbreaks come amid an insufficient vaccine supply, PAHO officials said, and the spread of the highly transmissible variant B.1.617 found in India, which has been detected in six countries in the Americas.

Health worker prepares dose of COVID-19 vaccination in Mexico City, Mexico [Henry Romero/Reuters]

Etienne said that so far, more than 140 million people have been fully vaccinated in the region. And the World Health Organization’s approval of China’s Sinopharm vaccine last week is good news for the Americas, as it paves the way for the vaccine’s inclusion in the COVAX vaccination program for low-income countries. , on which the region relies.

“But until we have enough vaccines to protect everyone, our health systems and the patients who depend on them remain at risk,” Etienne said.

Meanwhile, cases have accelerated in the region’s extensive border areas, she said, along parts of Costa Rica and Honduras bordering Nicaragua, and in border areas of Guatemala and Guatemala. El Salvador.

In South America, she said cases were increasing in parts of Guyana and Bolivia that border Brazil. And in Colombia, where COVID-19 cases have been increasing steadily for several weeks, PAHO expects even larger increases after weeks of anti-government protests.


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