MOSCOW, December 17. /TASS/. The Omicron strain which contains the unusually high number of mutations may have appeared as a result of trials of new drugs against the Delta coronavirus strain, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Alexander Sergeyev told journalists on Friday.
"Currently, an impression is being shaped that the virus, indeed, was in some state where it was forced to mutate in order for it to assume this new appearance. There are different theories, from conspiracy theories to more reasonable ones. It may be related to the fact that some drug against Delta was being tested in some region of the world. And the virus that found itself under the pressure of such new medications significantly mutated," the scientist noted.
On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant identified in South Africa as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. In its statement, the WHO noted that "this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning."
The highest number of infections with Omicron has been found in South Africa. The new strain has already been recorded in approximately 80 countries, in Russia it has been detected in 25 individuals.
According to the latest global statistics, about 273 mln people have been infected worldwide and more than 5.3 mln deaths have been reported. To date, 10,159,389 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 8,914,225 patients having recovered from the disease. Russia’s latest data indicates 295,104 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.