by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): There are now 515 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in St. Kitts and Nevis since 2020 according to the COVID-19 Situation Report No. 466 from the St. Kitts Health Promotion Unit as at 11:50 p.m. Monday, July 5.
On St. Kitts 497 cases have been recorded and Nevis 18 so far.
That is 470 cases in seven weeks since the start of the community transmission and unfortunately includes three deaths.
There are 275 active cases and the Lambda SARS-CoV-2 variant, first identified in Peru, present in our community.
Additionally, within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union’s (ECCU) eight members, St. Kitts and Nevis has the most active cases currently according to a data table from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) that was shared at 9 a.m. on July 5.
However, in another data table from the ECCB, St. Kitts and Nevis also ranks second in percentage of population vaccinated within the currency union.
Ahead of the restart of vaccine administration slated for Thursday July 8, with the 5,000 additional doses of AstraZeneca, contact tracing still continues in the Federation.
With the current variant present in our society, how effective is the vaccine against Lambda?
Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph N France General Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, explained that the vaccines, inclusive of AstraZeneca, still provide some protection from variants.
“How concerned are we about these new variants and this variant [Lambda] that we heard in general? Variants do tend to spread faster, they are more transmissible or more infectious and that is the worrying part. However, so far in general, they don’t cause more severe disease and are not associated with a higher death rate… A lot of [people] then will ask, “Do the vaccines protect against new variants?” A growing body of data suggests that most vaccines stimulate enough immunity to retain substantial efficacy against most variants especially for severe disease and hospitalization. The variants in general appear to have more impact on vaccine efficacy against mild disease and asymptomatic disease than more severe outcomes… When variants develop, the vaccine still continues to protect you against severe disease and hospitalization. Where they tend to affect the vaccines is in terms of mild disease or asymptomatic disease.”
He made those remarks during the June 26 press briefing hosted by the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC).
An article from the New York Post dated July 5, 2021, suggests that the “highly contagious new COVID-19 variant that is ravaging Peru may be resistant to vaccines.”
Currently, Lambda is one of seven Variants of Interest (VOI) according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and was declared such last month, which noted that it was “associated with substantive rates of community transmission in multiple countries” because it carried mutations that may have led to “potential increased transmissibility or possible increased resistance to neutralizing antibodies,” the WHO said.
The WHO, however, has stressed that “further studies are … required to validate the continued effectiveness of vaccines” with the new strain.