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The variants

December is off to a record-breaking start with 756 COVID-19 cases confirmed in the last 24 hours, marking the third-highest daily total for the pandemic to date.

The country has also reported 21 new COVID-19 related deaths, pushing the death toll to 2,198.

Of these 21 deaths, seven were elderly males, four were elderly females, seven were middle-aged males, and three were middle-aged females.

The country’s seven-day rolling average for deaths and cases also stand at pandemic highs with 23 deaths a day, the second highest, and 641 new cases a day.

Vaccinations both in Trinidad and Tobago remain low. In the last day, there were 3,713 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered but of these, only 1,107 were either first doses or a one-dose vaccine.

A look at variants

While the newest Omicron COVID-19 variant of concern has not arrived in T&T to date, the country has detected others, with both the Delta and Gamma variants spreading in the community.

Through the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago has submitted 982 genetic sequences to GISAID as of late October.

Of these samples, the country has recorded 9 Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant samples. This variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020 and reported in Trinidad on January 21st, 2021.

Cases in T&T were imported or those who had contact with imported cases.

The Gamma (P.1) COVID-19 variant of concern was first detected in Brazil in November 2020, and in Trinidad on April 19th, 2021, initially dominated COVID-19 cases in the country. The country has sequenced 502 P.1 (Gamma) variant cases to date, but the percentage of the latest batch of samples submitted has been decreasing as another variant now dominates—Delta (B.1.617.2).

The Delta COVID-19 variant of concern was first detected in India during October 2020, and its first confirmed case in T&T occurred on August 11th, 2021.

As of late October 2021, T&T has sequenced 245 COVID-19 samples which were of the Delta variant based on GISAID data.

However, according to the Ministry of Health, T&T has confirmed 204 Delta cases in the country to date, 20 of which have been confirmed in Tobago.

Delta accounts for 95 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the latest sequencing submission, while Gamma accounts for 5 per cent. Earlier this year, during the May-July 2021 surge, Gamma accounted for 100 per cent of sequenced samples.