Russia records first omicron case
Russian health authorities on Monday confirmed that cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant have been detected in the country for the first time.
According to the Russian state-owned news service TASS, Russia’s sanitary and human well-being watchdog Rospotrebnadzor confirmed the two positive cases came from individuals who had recently returned from South Africa.
A total of 10 people have tested positive for COVID-19 so far after returning to Russia from South Africa, with the other cases still being looked at to determine if they are the omicron variant.
Russia has currently barred entry for foreign travelers coming from southern Africa while Russian nationals returning from the region are required to quarantine for 14 days.
Last week, Russian vaccine developers announced that they would begin work on developing a vaccine specific to the omicron variant. The Gamaleya Institute, which helped in producing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, said in a statement that it had begun developing a modified vaccine specific to the omicron variant, though the institute believes the current shot to be effective against the new strain.
“The Gamaleya Institute believes both Sputnik V and Sputnik Light will neutralize the latest Omicron variant and has started the necessary studies,” the organization said. “Nonetheless the Gamaleya Institute, based on existing protocols of immediately developing vaccine versions for variants of concern, has already begun developing the new version of Sputnik vaccine adapted to Omicron.”
Though Russia was the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine during the pandemic, vaccination rates in the country have remained low, with only 47 percent of the country having received at least one dose of a vaccine according to Our World in Data.