New Covid-19 strains detected in Russia
The BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 sub-variants of the Omicron strain of Covid-19 were detected in Russia last week, Anna Popova, the 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 the health authorities do not expect a significant surge in cases.
BQ.1 and its closely related descendant BQ.1.1 are both sub-liniages of the Omicron variant of the SARS CoV-2 virus. The former branched from the BA.5 sub-variant and both are currently spreading in the US and Europe. Some people have dubbed them Typhon and Cerberus, respectively.
According to Popova, the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants have remained dominant in Russia. The newly discovered strains are more infectious, according to studies, but display 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 disruptive increase in the number of cases,” the official said. “We are not planning to introduce any restrictions because we have no reasons to do so.”
She predicted there would certainly be a seasonal increase in respiratory infections in Russia, but that the situation would remain manageable for the health authorities.
According to the country's Covid-19 statistics, the daily number of infections remains well under the 10,000 mark. The latest report on Tuesday said that in the last 24 hours, 1,576 people had to be hospitalized with the disease, while 89 patients with confirmed cases had died.