Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony on Wednesday said the ministry is partnering with a team from Harvard University to sequence the genomes of parasites found in the blood of a person who has been infected with malaria.
According to Dr Anthony, this new technology can also be used to sequence other viruses such as COVID-19. This will allow the Ministry of Health to detect which variant of COVID-19 is present in the country.
“So we would have the capacity to be able to do gene sequencing for COVID-19 variants because the same machine can be repurposed to do that," Dr Anthony said in his daily COVID-19 update. Currently, the ministry has been sending samples taken from infected COVID-19 patients to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to confirm whether a variant is present in Guyana. This process usually takes two to three weeks to get results back to Guyana. The Minister of Health is optimistic that this project will come onstream later in 2022.
“So we’re hopeful that later in the year, that is one of the things that we’ll be able to do, so we’ll be able to sequence COVID-19 variants," the Minister stated. Meanwhile, Dr Anthony says persons have to be cautious if the BA.2 Omicron variant comes into the country since it is highly infectious and can cause a surge in cases.