Russian scientists discover new ‘Moscow strain’ of the coronavirus

Scientists at Russia’s Gamaleya National Center claim to have identified a new variant of the coronavirus, dubbed “Moscow” strain as cases surge across the country.

Scientists that designed the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine are studying the jab’s effectiveness against the new strain, Gamaleya Center head Alexander Gintsburg was quoted as saying to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, the Moscow Times reported.

“We think that the vaccine will be effective, but we must wait for the study results,” Gintsburg said.

While epidemiologists have confirmed mutated coronavirus strains originating from Russia, information about these strains remains limited.

New strains emerging in Moscow couldn’t be ruled out, Gamaleya’s deputy head Denis Logunov was quoted as saying.

The chief doctor of Moscow’s main Covid-19 hospital Denis Protsenko said last week that hospital patients were not responding to treatments that were previously effective, indicating that mutated Covid-19 strains were present in the capital, the report said.

Russia has seen a spike in infections of the deadly virus. On Wednesday, the country confirmed 13,397 new coronavirus cases and 396 deaths. Of these, 5,782 cases are in Moscow.

To curb the dramatic rise in infections, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced a “non-working week” from June 15 to 19.

Sobyanin has also introduced mandatory vaccinations for service sector workers in Moscow. Only 12 per cent of the country’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid jab so far.