10 Dec 2021 18:57

Russia's Gamaleya Center developing vaccine versions for possible Covid-19 mutations

ST. PETERSBURG. Dec 10 (Interfax) - The Russian Health Ministry's Gamaleya Center is working together with Sberbank's Artificial Intelligence Institute to predict potential future mutations of Covid-19, Gamaleya Center deputy head for science Denis Logunov said, adding that several new vaccine versions have already been developed and will be tested.

"We are currently conducting extensive work with the Artificial Intelligence Institute, an institute of Sberbank, in the hope of preempting the evolution of this virus," Logunov said at the plenary session of the second international scientific forum on fighting Covid-19 and other infectious diseases.

Today, "we are constantly lagging behind" the appearance of new mutations in viruses, he said.

"There's the same pattern with the flu: the virus changes, and we make modifications," Logunov said.

"We very much hope that these predictions - AI Institute experts have offered a number of stabilizing mutations - will allow us to preempt every viral mutation instead of chasing them. We now have a number of proposed vaccine versions which we will test, as well," he said.

A great deal of attention is now being given to the effectiveness of booster shots and to maintaining high levels of Covid-19 antibodies, he said.

"It seems to me that we have forgotten and are overlooking, which is wrong, a whole range of other antigens. I mean vaccine approaches in general, such as mRNA, vector [vaccines], etc. We aren't paying attention to antigen compositions, let alone possible modifications of antigens and of the S antigen," Logunov said.

The Gamaleya Center's Sputnik V vaccine is the main vaccine being used in Russia's Covid-19 vaccination campaign, which began at the beginning of the year. Sputnik V has been approved in 71 countries with an overall population of more than four billion people.