MOSCOW, December 1. /TASS/. Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that there are no clear-cut predictions on the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant in Russia because it is a matter of time.
"No one can provide clear-cut forecasts regarding its [Omicron] spread because it is simply impossible," Peskov told journalists.
"There is no question of whether Omicron reaches Russia, but there is a question of when it erupts in Russia," he added.
Last Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant discovered in South Africa as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. This variant has a large number of mutations some of which alarm the WHO.
Several changes at once in the spike protein can potentially hinder the neutralization of the pathogen by antibodies which may impact the effectiveness of vaccines. Additionally, according to preliminary reports, the strain has a heightened ability to spread. As a precautionary measure, a number of countries suspended air service with southern African countries.