August 15, 2021 The Ministry of Health and Wellness in Antigua has reported that it recently received confirmation from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) of the Gamma variant strain of COVID-19 on the island.
This means that all four variants of concern that the World Health Organization has confirmed are circulating globally – Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma – have now been identified in the twin-island nation.
The Gamma variant of concern, first identified in Brazil in November 2020, was found in three of a group of eight samples taken between July 18 and 22 which were sent to CARPHA for genomic sequencing.
The Delta variant was identified in the five other samples.
The Ministry first became aware of the presence of the Delta variant here after it was found in one of seven samples taken between May 5 and July 2, 2021, which were sent to CARPHA for genomic sequencing.
The Gamma variant, like the Delta variant, is deemed to be more transmissible, causing the more severe disease which results in increased hospitalization and death.
“This development clearly speaks to the importance of being vaccinated and adhering to the public health measures that have been established. Vaccination, physical distancing, social distancing, wearing of the masks correctly and proper hygiene and cough etiquette continue to be the most effective measures in the prevention and control of COVID-19,” the Ministry said.
“We, therefore, encourage all unvaccinated residents in Antigua and Barbuda to avail themselves of the COVID-19 vaccines (AstraZeneca and Sinopharm) that are now being distributed and are readily available at our vaccination sites.”