MOSCOW, January 8. /TASS/. Dozens of different coronavirus strains currently circulate in Russia, and they differ significantly from the original Omicron strain says head of the Gamaleia Research Center Alexander Gintsburg. According to the researcher, it is necessary to come up with another Greek letter for these strains already.
"The diversity that is currently present and surround us is dozens of various strains that cause a disease similar to the coronavirus infections," Gintsburg told TASS. "The currently circulating variants of the Omicron strains, these recombinants with the letter X, they differ very significantly from the original Omicron strain, and it would be in order to come up with a new Greek letter for them."
The scientist noted that the currently circulating strains are hybrids that appeared in the process of genetic exchange between various virus variants.
"Therefore it is not entirely correct call them Omicron; genetically, this is a fully-fledged exchange, basically ‘children’ of two strains," Gintsburg said.
Previously, WHO specialists said that the XBB.1.5 Omicron variant, known as "Kraken," detected in late 2022 in New York, is the most contagious sub-variant of the coronavirus detected so far. Meanwhile, the Organization concluded that there is currently no indication that it causes a particularly severe illness. As of today, the "Kraken" has been detected in 28 countries; according to the Russian sanitary watchdog agency, it has not been detected in Russia by January 7.
According to the agency, the Omicron strain is currently dominant in Russia. During the last weeks, the share of its BA.2 variant varied between 1.9% and 23.9%, while the share of the BA.5 varied between 66.7% and 96.5%.