Tuesday 1 December, 2020

PAHO: COVID has not mutated; monitoring continues

PAHO/WHO Representative for Trinidad and Tobago and The Dutch Kingdom Islands, Dr Erica Wheeler.

PAHO/WHO Representative for Trinidad and Tobago and The Dutch Kingdom Islands, Dr Erica Wheeler.

Despite international reports that a ‘European strain’ of COVID-19 has led to a new outbreak in China, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) is assuring that the virus has not mutated. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that the strain originated in Europe. 

During today’s Ministry of Health virtual media briefing, PAHO/WHO Representative for Trinidad and Tobago and The Dutch Kingdom Islands, Dr Erica Wheeler explained that while there’s an origin for the new outbreak, it doesn’t point to mutation. 

“This is not a mutation; this is not something out of the ordinary. Viruses change a little over time but we do know that there are more than 40,000 full genome sequences of the COVID-19 virus,” she said. 

Dr Wheeler says the name understandably points to a new strain, but that label isn’t indicative of anything worth worrying about. 

“We know that the COVID-19 virus has been relatively stable and in terms of the way that it’s transmitted we know that in terms of the type of disease that Sars-CoV causes has not changed in severity either, so there is no need to be overly concerned,” she added. 

She says that constant monitoring of the virus and its progression is underway and that information will be updated in the event that anything changes.

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