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New rapid tests against COVID-19 will transform the response to the disease in Latin America

ByMicheal Johnson

Oct 14, 2020

“These new rapid diagnoses will allow us to perform to more people faster and more accurately than ever, especially in remote communities without easy access to a laboratory that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic ”, highlighted Carissa Etienne during the weekly press conference where she evaluates the situation of the coronavirus in the Americas.

The head of the Organization assured that the new rapid tests, which should not be confused with those for antibodies, they do not replace the PCR tests that continue to be the benchmark.

Etiene indicated that, as these tests are launched, PAHO has begun to help countries implement new testing protocols so that healthcare workers know how to use the new diagnoses and report their results

“We are also pleased to announce that PAHO is conducting pilot studies in Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, and Suriname. In the case of the study in Mexico, PAHO will collaborate closely with the Ministry of Health and WHO. ”, He explained, adding that his Organization“ can provide access to hundreds of thousands of these tests through the Fund for Strategic Supplies of the OPS ”, and that“ millions more are expected in the coming weeks.

Deployment in other countries in the region

Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, Incident Manager for COVID-19, confirmed that so far the tests have been validated by two manufacturers and added that “the tests have been obtained and have reached Venezuelan territory.

“Our team in Venezuela is working closely with the national laboratory network for its implementation in priority areas of the country,” he reported.

In the case of Ecuador, he indicated that the rapid tests have not reached the country and that they are in PAHO warehouses in Panama, but that they work side by side with the authorities and laboratory networks.

“What interests us as a pilot is working with Ecuadorian colleagues in indigenous populations and Afro-descendant areas, in remote areas,” he specified.

The American continent is approaching 600,000 deaths from COVID

With reference to the last balance of the disease, Etiene indicated that there are already more than 18 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 590,000 deaths in the region.

He added that Canada is currently facing a second wave and that areas that were previously unaffected by the disease are now exceeding the numbers seen during the first wave. The provinces of Quebec and Ontario are those with the highest number of deaths.

He also warned that there is an increase in cases in the English-speaking Caribbean and that in many countries the pandemic has moved to less populated areas.

“In Guatemala, for example, the department of Petén has tripled the number of deaths and the department of Tarija, in Bolivia, has the highest incidence rate in the country ”.

Finally, he highlighted that cases in Argentina continue to grow, reaching 16,000 per day during the last week.