United States Helps Guatemala During COVID-19

April 3, 2020
Guatemala City

The Department of State has announced that it will provide funding to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to supply Guatemala, along with dozens of other countries, with equipment to help combat COVID-19. Guatemala will receive COVID-19 testing kits capable of processing at least 2,000 samples, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical professionals and training in how to use the testing kits. The kits are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for virus detection, and use nuclear-derived techniques to identify the COVID-19 virus.

The State Department has provided $6 million to the IAEA, which the IAEA will use to purchase testing kits, equipment, and training for countries that are in critical need of assistance. Guatemala is one of dozens of countries receiving assistance under the program, and will receive its kits directly from the IAEA. The kits use a technique called Real-Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), which is the most sensitive method available for detecting COVID-19. RT-PCR uses DNA amplification to identify genetic material from the COVID-19 virus, delivering results within a matter of hours.

Additionally, earlier this week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Central America office, which is based in Guatemala City, worked with its partner Universidad del Valle de Guatemala to donate a supply of 500 nasopharyngeal swabs and sample preservation chemicals to the Guatemalan Ministry of Health. The CDC, which uses the swabs for studies on the causes of cases of acute fevers, donated them upon learning they were in short supply in local hospitals. The donation will help the Guatemalan Government collect 500 COVID-19 tests and transport them to the Ministry of Health’s National Health Laboratory.

Speaking about the donations, U.S. Ambassador Luis Arreaga commented “We are proud to help Guatemala get testing supplies during the critical shortages COVID-19 has created. This is yet another example of our countries’ almost two hundred years of close friendship.”