Russia is currently grappling with a concerning surge in COVID-19 cases, raising alarm about the potential repercussions worldwide. While genomic sequencing efforts in the country have been limited, there are indications that a new sub-lineage of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, known as XBB.1.16.11, is driving the surge. This sub-lineage carries a possible mutation known as G20055A reversion and a spike mutation A701V. However, due to delays in sequencing uploads and limited data sharing, the full extent of its emergence and spread remains uncertain. Thailand Medical News will provide regular updates on this variant as more information becomes available.
The rise in COVID-19 cases in Russia has been observed across various regions, leading to an increase in hospitalizations and fatalities. Despite the implementation of stringent control measures by Russian authorities, the situation continues to worsen. Reports from mid-January highlighted the surge in infections in St. Petersburg and the strain it placed on healthcare facilities. More recently, Moscow reported over 6,500 new cases in a week, with 585 individuals requiring hospitalization and 18 deaths. This represents a significant escalation compared to the previous week.
The COVID-19 crisis in Russia first began in mid-December 2023, when cases started to surge nationwide. However, unlike in many other countries, the spike in Russia is not primarily driven by the JN.1 variant. Instead, the XBB sub-lineage is believed to be the main cause. This sub-lineage, with its distinct mutation patterns, has attracted attention from experts. The XBB.1.16.11 sub-lineage, which includes the G20055A reversion and the A701V spike mutation, has been identified in sequences from Vologda. Nevertheless, due to delays in sequence uploads and limited data sharing, the exact timeline of its emergence and spread remains unclear.
It is important to note that despite the growing number of sequences, this new sub-lineage has not yet received an official name. There may be various reasons for this, including a focus on obtaining media coverage and other priorities among the scientific teams involved. Thailand Medical News, renowned for its updates on COVID-19 variants, will continue to provide information on this emerging sub-lineage as more data becomes available.
Given the significance of the current surge in COVID-19 cases in Russia, it is crucial to recognize its potential implications for the global community. As the situation continues to evolve, closely monitoring the development of this new sub-lineage and its impact on the pandemic worldwide is of utmost importance.