MOSCOW, November 28. /TASS/. The omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has not been registered in Russia at present, Head of the Scientific Group for the Development of New Methods for Diagnosing Human Diseases at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor, Kamil Khafizov, reported on Sunday.
"As of Sunday, the Omicron variant has not been detected. At the same time, intensive work has been underway to sequence the coronavirus genome, including from patients who have recently visited foreign countries."
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. It also said that the new variant has "a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning."
According to experts, several changes in the spike protein could hamper the neutralization of the pathogen with antibodies and make the vaccine less effective at preventing COVID-19. According to preliminary data, the strain has an increased ability to spread. Cases of infection have been confirmed in Israel, Belgium, Hong Kong, Germany, the UK, Italy and Australia. The global epicenter of the spread of the Omicron variant is the south of Africa. The largest number of people infected with it - about 150 - was registered in South Africa.