Medics suit up at the Novomoskovsky centre for suspected Covid patients as Moscow grapples with a fresh surge (Image: Sergei Fadeichev/TASS)
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Russian scientists claim to have discovered new variants of Covid-19 emerging in Moscow and are urgently investigating.
Sputnik V vaccine researchers are believed to be probing the efficacy of their jab against the strains, which they claim have been uncovered in a new surge of cases in the capital.
However, others have suggested several of the 'new' strains may have originated from elsewhere before they were identified in Moscow – although these reports are yet to be verified by international agencies.
The so-called Moscow strain, first highlighted by Russian state media, has not been officially designated in any of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) lists of variants of concern or interest.
Urgent tests are now underway in Russia to trace the origin and makeup of the strains.
A temporary hospital is set up in an exhibition centre in St Petersburg ahead of the city's UEFA match
(Image: Peter Kovalev/TASS)
The Mirror approached the WHO for comment to see if the new variant is legitimate.
The organisation did not speculate, but pointed to its weekly epidemiological update and SARS-CoV-2 variants tracker.
The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine are studying the jab’s effectiveness against the virus mutation, scientists told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday, according to the Moscow Times.
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Gamaleya Center head Alexander Gintsburg said: “We think that the vaccine will be effective, but we must wait for the study results."
The new variant claims come as authorities in Moscow made the vaccine compulsory for some workers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has also headed into his first summit with Joe Biden since the US leader took office.
Authorities in Moscow are making the jabs compulsory for 60% of employees in the services sector, a decree published on Wednesday showed, as coronavirus cases continued to tick up in the Russian capital.
People mask up to catch trains on the St Petersburg Underground as Russia experiences a fresh Covid outbreak
(Image: Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS)
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the situation in the city was developing dramatically and urged people to get vaccinated in an effort to drive down hospitalisations and deaths.
Immunologist Vladimir Bolibok said: “The most important reason for the increase in coronavirus infections, in all likelihood, is the emergence of our own, Moscow strain.
“Our own mutation, which began to spread throughout Russia. Possibly the Moscow strain did not originate in Moscow either.
Medics wear protective suits in the 'red zone' of a temporary Covid-19 hospital in St Petersburg
(Image: Peter Kovalev/TASS)
“It just got to Moscow from some city and began to spread strongly.”
Data analyst Alexander Dragan warned Russia was now facing a "fully-fledged third wave" of the pandemic across dozens of regions.
Russia's RDIF sovereign wealth fund is seeking approval for its Sputnik V vaccine from the European Medicines Agency within two months, the Interfax news agency said.
Russia reported 13,397 new Covid cases on Wednesday, including 5,782 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 5,249,990.
The government coronavirus task force said 396 people had died of Covid-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 127,576.
The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 270,000 deaths related to the virus from April 2020 to April 2021.