The new coronavirus strain, Omicron, causes serious concerns and requires thorough study, the Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology told TASS on Sunday, APA reports citing TASS.
"The Omicron variant that was classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Variant of Concern (VOC), has a lot of mutations in the S-protein gene. <…> Some of the mutations in the new gene variant rare responsible for eluding immune response. So, the new variant is indeed alarming and requires prompt and all-round study," it said.
The efficacy of the EpiVacCorona and EpiVacCorona-N coronavirus vaccines against the new SARA-CoV-2 variant, Omicron, is comparable with their efficacy against the Delta strain, the Vector told.
"Based on the available data on the mutations in the Omicron variant’s S-protein, there are grounds to think that the efficacy of the EpiVacCorona and EpiVacCorona-N vaccines will be comparable with their efficacy against the Delta variant," it said.
It also said that the new variant causes serious concerns and requites prompt and thorough study.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the B.1.1.529 variant as a "Variant of Concern" and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. It also said that the new variant has "a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning." "Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs," it said.
The data on the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529, which was identified in the south of Africa, was put on the international database GISAID on November 22.
According to experts, several mutations in the virus’ S-protein are potentially capable of hampering the neutralization of the pathogen by antibodies and hence play down the efficacy of vaccines. According to preliminary data, the new strain has increased transmissibility. Omicron cases have been confirmed in Israel, Belgium, Hong Kong, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Australia. The biggest number of cases has been identified in the south of Africa, with most of them - 150 - reported in South Africa.