New strains of Covid-19 detected in Russia

Health authorities have identified the route of transmission for one of them as leading to a foreign country

The BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants of the Omicron strain of Covid-19 were detected in Russia last week, Anna Popova, head of the country’s public health watchdog, reported on Wednesday. They are believed to be more infectious than the dominant strains in the country, but health authorities do not expect a significant increase in cases.

BQ.1 and its closely related descendant BQ.1.1 are both sublines of the Omicron variant of the SARS CoV-2 virus. The former is derived from the BA.5 sub-variant and both are currently spreading in the US and Europe. Some people nicknamed them Typhon and Cerberus respectively.

According to Popova, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants remained dominant in Russia. The newly discovered strains are more infectious, studies have found, but have similar symptoms and are comparable in terms of the protection offered by vaccination, she said.

“At this point, our scientists do not predict any rapid and disruptive increase in the number of cases,” said the official. “We don’t plan to introduce any restrictions because we have no reason to.”

She predicted that there would certainly be a seasonal increase in respiratory infections in Russia, but that the situation would remain manageable for health authorities.

READ MORE: New study claims to have determined the origin of Covid-19

According to the country’s Covid-19 statistics, the daily number of infections remains well below the 10,000 mark. The latest report on Tuesday indicates that in the past 24 hours, 1,576 people have required hospitalization for the disease, while 89 patients with confirmed cases died.


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