MOSCOW (REUTERS) – Russia on Monday (Nov 29) said it would be ready to provide booster shots to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant if needed.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said jittery market reaction to the new strain was emotional and not based on scientific data.
The heavily mutated Omicron variant sent investors scurrying for cover on Friday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it is likely to spread internationally, posing a very high risk of infection surges that could have severe consequences in some places.
Russia was quick to develop its two-dose Sputnik V vaccine last year and has also deployed a one-shot Sputnik Light vaccine. It says both have demonstrated high efficacy in trials but are still awaiting WHO approval.
In addition, manufacturers have told Reuters that they have had difficulties producing the second dose of the vaccine, hampering efforts to boost output at home.
But Russia said on Monday that its vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Institute, would likely work against Omicron and that it would be ready to produce hundreds of millions of booster shots otherwise.
“Gamaleya Institute believes Sputnik V and Light will neutralise Omicron as they have highest efficacy versus other mutations,” Mr Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which markets the vaccine overseas, said via the official Sputnik V Twitter account.
“In the unlikely case that a modification is needed, we will provide several hundred million of Sputnik Omicron boosters by Feb 20, 2022,” he added.
Earlier, the Kremlin said more data was needed before conclusions could be drawn about the new variant.
“We see that the reaction of markets is emotional. It is not based on scientific evidence because there is none yet,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “The whole world is currently trying to figure out how dangerous it is.”
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