Data on new Omicron coronavirus strain analyzed by crisis center, Kremlin says

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Last week, the WHO designated the B.1.1.529 variant discovered in South Africa as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron

MOSCOW, November 29. /TASS/. Russia’s federal anti-coronavirus crisis center is currently analyzing information on the new Omicron coronavirus strain, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday.

“Currently, the entire world and the WHO are trying to understand how dangerous it [the Omicron strain — TASS] is. This information is being analyzed by the federal crisis center, decisions on closing some entry routes to Russia were made rather swiftly,” the Kremlin official said.

“As for any further steps, it will depend on those conclusions that scientists will draw on how contagious this strain is, what the possible consequences are, how much the available arsenal of vaccines is capable of protecting against the infection and the severe course of the disease,” the spokesman noted.

Speaking in general about the dynamics of vaccination rates nationwide, Putin’s press secretary said that “information from regions on vaccination rates is arriving constantly.”

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant discovered in South Africa as a “Variant of Concern” and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. This variant has a large number of mutations some of which alarm the WHO. Several changes at once in the spike protein can potentially hinder the neutralization of the pathogen by antibodies which may impact the effectiveness of vaccines. Additionally, according to preliminary reports, the mutation is much more transmissible. As a precautionary measure, a number of countries suspended air service with southern African countries.

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