Russia supplies ex-USSR nations, Iran, North Korea with virus test kits

Russia has already supplied 10 countries with test kits which have been used to identify cases in Belarus and Armenia. (File/AFP)
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Updated 12 March 2020

Russia supplies ex-USSR nations, Iran, North Korea with virus test kits

  • The tests are made at “Vector,” a state-run virus and biotechnology research center
  • Russia earlier this month banned the export of surgical masks, ventilators and hazmat suits

MOSCOW: Russia said Thursday it has sent test kits for the novel coronavirus to countries including Iran, North Korea and ex-Soviet states.
The state health watchdog said in a statement that Moscow had sent 800 test kits to ex-Soviet states including Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, as well as to Iran, North Korea and Mongolia.
Russia ally Iran received 500 kits which can be used to carry out 50,000 tests, the watchdog said, adding that these were supplied free of charge.
Iran is one of the countries most affected by the outbreak with 9,000 cases and 354 deaths.
The closed state of North Korea, another ally of Moscow, has not confirmed a single case of COVID-19, although there is a major outbreak in neighboring South Korea.
Russia has already supplied 10 countries with test kits which have been used to identify cases in Belarus and Armenia, the watchdog said.
The tests are made at “Vector,” a state-run virus and biotechnology research center in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.
Russia earlier this month banned the export of surgical masks, ventilators and hazmat suits to ensure supplies for its own citizens.
So far, Russia has confirmed 28 cases of coronavirus, most of them people who had recently visited Italy.


More infectious coronavirus mutation now most common strain: Researchers

Updated 04 July 2020

More infectious coronavirus mutation now most common strain: Researchers

  • The news of a more infectious dominant strain comes as total infections have passed 11 million and over half a million people have lost their lives
  • Many countries fear that a “second wave” of infections could be approaching as they reopen their economies

LONDON: A new, more infectious mutation of coronavirus is now the most common strain, researchers have warned. 
Researchers from the UK’s University of Sheffield, Duke University and Los Alamos National Laboratory — both in the US — have warned that COVID-19 has improved its ability to enter and infect human cells since it was first discovered last year.
The new variant has a small but effective change to the “spike” protein protruding from its surface, which researchers believe allows it to infect humans more easily.
“Data provided by our team in Sheffield suggested that the new strain was associated with higher viral loads in the upper respiratory tract of patients with COVID-19, meaning the virus’s ability to infect people could be increased,” said Dr. Thushan de Silva, senior clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of Sheffield.
He added, however, that while the new variant may increase the likelihood of infection, it does not appear to make the virus more deadly or its symptoms more severe.
Scientists used information from a collaborative database created in Germany to make the discovery.
The news of a more infectious dominant strain comes as total infections have passed 11 million and over half a million people have lost their lives.
Many countries fear that a “second wave” of infections could be approaching as they reopen their economies and try to mitigate some of the financial damage caused by the pandemic’s disruptions.