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Russia to set up 15 highest biosafety level labs by 2024 — watchdog chief

Moscow will also expand the network of overseas labs cooperating with Russian laboratories

MOSCOW, August 17. /TASS/. Russia’s Sanitary Shield project includes the creation of 15 maximum-biosafety level laboratories by 2024, head of the national sanitary watchdog Anna Popova announced at a strategic session dubbed "National Sanitary Shield. Combating New Challenges," arranged by the United Russia party on Tuesday.

"Creating 15 maximum-biosafety level labs by 2024 is one of the elements of the ‘sanitary shield.’ We know how to do it and we will definitely do it with United Russia’s support, contributing to our country’s security," Popova pointed out. According to her, there are currently about 60 such laboratories in the world, almost all of which were put into operation in the past 20 years.

In order to build its sanitary shield, Moscow will also expand the network of overseas labs cooperating with Russian laboratories. "Today, there are such facilities in Commonwealth of Independent States member states and some other countries, namely Guinea and Vietnam, but we certainly need to expand the network to identify emerging risks," Popova explained.

She highlighted the importance of developing express testing methods to detect various infections within an hour. In particular, express tests for dangerous infections will be carried out at border crossing points as part of the Sanitary Shield project. According to the watchdog chief, efforts to enhance laboratory capacities will make it possible to introduce express testing to detect seven infectious diseases before the end of 2021.

There are plans to establish an academic consortium in order to address the shortage of medical personnel in the field of biosafety, which will involve 35 research and educational facilities.