Russian Scientists Say They Fully Decode COVID-19 Genome

A medical worker and a man wearing face masks talk to each other at the Botkin isolation hospital, where patients are kept in isolation for possible inflection by the new coronavirus, in St.Petersburg, Russia, March 16, 2020. (AP)

MOSCOW (TASS) — Russian scientists from the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza have managed to decode the first full genome of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Russian Health Ministry informed on Thursday.

“Specialists of the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza with the Russian Health Ministry sequenced the first full genome of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in Russia from the material taken from a COVID-19 patient,” the message informs.

Acting Director of the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza Dmitry Lioznov stated that genetical research of the virus will help scientists understand the nature and the evolution of the virus, which will in turn help develop a vaccine and treatment methods.

“This coronavirus is new to us, so it is crucial to have an opportunity to determine the pattern of its spread and entry on the territory of our country, and the way the virus changes. This information will help us develop vaccines and antiviral drugs to treat the coronavirus,” the ministry’s press service quotes Lioznov as saying.

The Health Ministry informed that the data had been sent to an international database used by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the world’s leading research teams monitoring the global evolution of the novel coronavirus.

In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about an outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. On March 11, WHO officially characterized the situation with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as a pandemic.

The disease has spread to over 140 countries. According to latest reports, over 210,000 people have been infected with the virus globally, and about 8,500 have died. There are 147 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Russia and one reported death.