Invest in genomic surveillance among the HIV positive

Source: Invest in genomic surveillance among the HIV positive – NewsDay Zimbabwe


ZIMBABWE has been urged to invest in genomic surveillance of COVID-19 positive cases among fully vaccinated HIV positive individuals to determine effectiveness of vaccines against emerging variants, Lancet Global Health has said.

In its latest report titled Insights from Zimbabwe’s SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Surveillance, Lancet said genomic sequencing allows scientists to identify SARS-CoV-2 and monitor how it changes over time into new variants, understand how these changes affect the characteristics of the virus and use this information to better understand how it might impact health.

Statistics from the Health and Child Care ministry show that the country has been recording a decline in COVID-19 new cases and fatalities in recent weeks.

But there has also been a slow uptake of vaccines in recent weeks.

Lancet said the country had to invest more in genomic surveillance among the HIV positive to ensure success in the fight against the pandemic.

“Some experts have expressed concern over emerging evidence that individuals with weakened immune systems due to HIV might be prone to prolonged infection and increased likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 mutations,” the commentary reads in part.

“It is important to note that although Zimbabwe is one of the very few countries to have met the UNAids target of having at least 73% of people with HIV viral load suppression, it is neighbour to South Africa, which has a substantially weaker HIV response with one of the largest numbers of people with HIV without viral load suppression in the

“Under this epidemiological context, local genomic surveillance among people with HIV could be informative.”

Government aims to vaccinate about 60% of the population to achieve herd immunity. To date, a total of just over 2,5 million people are fully vaccinated.