15 Jun 2022 12:39

New Omicron sub-variant unlikely to be more dangerous - Russian academician Gintsburg

ST. PETERSBURG. June 15 (Interfax) - A new sub-lineage of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, BA.4, is unlikely to cause more severe forms of the disease, Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Russian Health Ministry's Gamaleya Center and academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said.

"The information available in the mainstream press, newspaper, magazines, on TV... does not indicate that the clinical picture has changed toward greater severity. I hope that, if we see it in our country, it will not cause more severe cases of the disease either. But I cannot say in advance what it is going to be in reality," Gintsburg told Interfax on the sidelines of the 2022 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Wednesday.

It will be possible to minimize an upsurge in morbidity rates if the vaccination campaign continues, he said.

"The only thing I can tell citizens is to go and get vaccinated with Sputnik V [vaccine] if you have not been vaccinated in the past six months. In this case, our country either will not encounter a new wave at all, or it will affect a far smaller number of people in our country," he said.

Kamil Khafizov, head of the research group developing new sequencing-based diagnostic methods at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of the Russian consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said earlier that the more transmissible BA.4 Omicron sub-variant has been identified in Russia; the first samples with the new Covid-19 strain were sent to laboratories in late May. The first sample has been deposited by the Russian Health Ministry's Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza, and a second one by the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor.

Khafizov said at the same time that the BA.2 'Stealth' Omicron variant and its sub-variants, which currently prevail in Russia, make up for around 95% of all new coronavirus cases in the country.