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Russian science expedition arrives in South Africa to study Omicron

A team of Russian scientists has arrived in Cape Town with a mobile lab to do further research into the Sars-CoV-2 virus and its mutations.
A team of Russian scientists has arrived in Cape Town with a mobile lab to do further research into the Sars-CoV-2 virus and its mutations.
Image: REUTERS/ DADO RUVIC

A team of Russian scientists has arrived in South Africa to study the latest Sars-CoV-2 variant.

The team, which includes members of Russia's health ministry and consumer and health welfare watchdog, took off from Volgograd in southern Russia on Saturday and flew to  Cape Town.

The visit comes in the wake of an invitation from President Cyril Ramaphosa for Brics member states to send scientists to do research alongside SA experts into the virus and its mutations. Brics refers to the group of five emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. 

The presidency said last week that the co-operation would form part of the establishment of the Brics vaccine research and development centre.

Ramaphosa said the virus would only be beaten if countries worked together and shared information, expertise and resources.

“The spread of the different Covid-19 variants to all corners of the earth underlines the importance of effective surveillance, scientific transparency and collaborative research,” he said, adding that the Brics collaboration would benefit not only member states but also the global community.

The Russian team has a mobile laboratory mounted on a Kamaz truck which was loaded onto the IL-76 transport plane at Volgograd on Saturday, Russian news agency Tass reported.

Ramaphosa had appointed ministerial advisory council on Covid-19 chairperson Prof Koleka Mlisana to head up a team of SA researchers in the area of genomic sequencing to work with experts Brics countries.

South Africa is currently the host of the Brics Vaccine Research Centre and the research on the Omicron variant will form part of the centre’s initiatives, the presidency said.

The visit comes as the country experiences a surge in the transmission rate of the Omicron variant and speculation whether the government will announce whether lockdown regulations will be changed after a national coronavirus command council meeting this week.

TimesLIVE


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