New COVID-19 variants found abroad not spreading through Russia, says watchdog
Mutated coronavirus strains that emerged abroad are not spreading in Russia, Russia’s chief sanitary doctor Anna Popova assured.
"We have practically no spread of the British strain. We are monitoring this very closely," said Popova, who heads the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing.
According to her, isolated cases have been recorded so far, which suggests that "there is no spread of other strains in Russia for now". "The shield works well in the country," she said in an interview with Nailya Asker-zade in Vesti program on Rossiya-1 television.
The UK coronavirus variant was found in September 2020, but it drew attention of experts only in December because of its spreading rapidly across the country. News about new strains came from Brazil and South Africa at the end of December.
Russian vaccines - Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona - proved their efficiency against the British coronavirus strain, Popova said.
"Today, we have completed checking […] the efficiency [of the vaccines] against the British strain," she said. "There is no difference in efficiency between the normal strain […] and the British one, both for the Sputnik V and the EpiVacCorona. Both vaccines are efficient. People, vaccinated by either of them can consider themselves protected from the new strain," she said.
Popova explained that, in order to test the efficiency of vaccines, the specialists analyzed the interaction of the virus with the blood of vaccinated people.
"If the virus dies during such interaction, then the protection is good," TASS cited the official as saying.
The South African variant caused a new outbreak of the infection in the country, which peaked in mid-January. According to some research, the existing vaccines may prove to be less efficient against this strain.