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Russia can develop vaccine against any new coronavirus mutated strain: Top scientist

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Russia is capable of developing a vaccine against any mutated coronavirus strains, the country's director of the Chumakov Federal Scientific Center for Research and Development of Immune and Biological Products said on Sunday.

"Our experience show that the coronavirus strains we detect do not differ dramatically, which means that the pace of its mutation is not rapid. But even if we learn that it has mutated seriously, we have a technology to simply change the primary strain. It is a rather simple solution," state news agency TASS quoted Aidar Ishmukhametov as saying.

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A new coronavirus variant, which appears to have increased transmissibility, has started circulating in the UK. Outside Britain, nine cases of the new strain have been reported in Denmark, as well as one case in the Netherlands and another in Australia, according to the WHO.

The WHO noted "preliminary signs that the variant may be able to spread more easily between people" and "preliminary information that the variant may affect (the) performance of some diagnostic assays (tests)."

The new strain's scientific name is VUI 202012/01, with VUI standing for Variant Under Investigation.

Russia's plan against COVID-19

Russia plans to vaccinate 80 percent of its population by the fall of 2021, Director of the Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology Alexander Gintsburg said on Sunday, according to TASS.

"If a month, and this is quite realistic for our domestic consumption, we will produce 5-6 mln doses of vaccine, then by the end of fall 2021 we should vaccinate 70-80 percent of our population, that is, this disease will be vaccine-controlled," he said.

The country will start vaccinating people above the age of 60 next week, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Sunday.

Russia had said in November that its locally developed coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, had over 95 percent efficacy and promised it would cost less than $10 per dose on international markets.

- With AFP

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