The poisoning of the former double agent and his daughter triggered an international scandal, as London almost immediately accused Moscow of orchestrating an attack on the Skripals on the UK soil. The Russian officials have vehemently denied the allegations and offered their help in the investigation of the attack.
Month Before Full Recoveryfound unconscious on a bench in a shopping mall in the UK city of Salisbury on March 4. According to the UK experts, they were exposed to a nerve agent that belongs to a group of USSR-developed chemical weapons.
Sergei Skripal remains in a critical condition, but his daughter's medical state improved last week, according to UK media reports.
Recovery could take a long time for both Yulia and her father, Dr. Alastair Hay, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Leeds, told Sputnik.
"Recovery will take many months for both father and daughter anyway given the length of time they have been in bed. But I do not know what Yulia's mental capacity is and so cannot say more about her prospects," Hay said.
According to the experts, the medical treatment that the Skripals received was quick and efficient, which is what helped them survive.
"We also know from good reports that others exposed to lethal concentrations of different nerve agents made full recoveries, but that this can take time," Hay noted.
Dr. Rudy J. Richardson, Professor of Toxicology at University of Michigan, believes that the full recovery is possible, but the prognosis depends, among other things, on "severity of the acute cholinergic episode."
Reaction to Nerve Agents
A cholinergic crisis occurs when a human body is overfilled with too much acetylcholine (ACh), a chemical that helps nerve cells communicate with one another and with muscle cells. The amount of this neurotransmitter in the organism is controlled by AChE enzymes, which speed up its breakdown process. Nerve agents, such as VX, sarin or Novichok, block the catalyst, and the muscles after being initially overwhelmed with ACh stop responding.
"Prognosis is not as favorable if the cholinergic crisis had progressed to include convulsions and/or coma because these events can actually lead to the death of nerve cells, whereas the biochemical and neuropharmacological effects of AChE inhibition per se can recover by resynthesis of the irreversibly inhibited enzyme," Richardson explained.
The University of Michigan scholar added that the full recovery depends on rebuilding ACHe enzymes, and the rates of recovery differ depending on what tissue is concerned.
"I recall seeing some estimates that were as long as 11 weeks for complete recovery of AChE activity, but the nervous system has a considerable reserve of AChE such that functional recovery can be achieved before 100% recovery of enzyme activity," Richardson said.
According to the expert, the treatment would include atropine and supportive measures, possibly such as artificial respiration to counteract respiratory failure that may have taken place.
"If there were convulsions, benzodiazepines or other anti-seizure medications would be given as well," Richardson stated.
At the moment, the UK Foreign Office is considering Russia's request for access to Yulia, who is a Russian citizen.
Moreover, after the United Kingdom expelled 23 Russian diplomats, a number of its allies also ordered select Russian diplomats to leave. Moscow has announced similar measures in response.
On Sunday, Russia sent a list of 13 questions to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, asking if the organization was planning to disclose the information about the attack provided to it by London.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.