16:32 GMT03 August 2021
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    Russian scientists have worked feverishly in recent weeks to study COVID-19, sequencing the virus's genome last week and starting work on potential vaccines.

    The State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR) in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk region has created a new test kit which will be able to uncover people with immunity to COVID-19, Rospotrebnadzor, Russia's consumer protection agency, has announced.

    "Next week, a new test system prepared by VECTOR will enable us to determine whether a person has antibodies, memory-based antibodies, or is suffering from an acute phase of the disease, which will also be determined more quickly [than an ordinary test] and with great efficiency," Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, said, speaking at a briefing of the government's COVID-19 response council on Friday.

    According to the official, the new kit will help identify individuals "both among the general population and among medical personnel who already have immunity and can work more freely with patients."

    The VEKTOR institute has been at the forefront of Russian scientists' COVID-19 response, creating thirteen separate potential vaccines for the virus and starting round-the-clock testing last week. The institute also created one of the country's first COVID-19 test kits.

    The institute is situated in the Koltsovo Science City, and has access to one of the world's most comprehensive collections of viruses, including Ebola, SARS, smallpox and others. It was created in 1974 during the Soviet era to develop vaccines and the means of protection against biological weapons.

    State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR) in Koltsovo
    © Sputnik / Alexandr Kryazhev
    State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR) in Koltsovo

    Last week, scientists from the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza, a leading medical institute in St. Petersburg partnered with the World Health Organization, successfully sequenced the whole genome of the new coronavirus, with the institute saying the measure will help to determine how the virus spreads and mutates.

    Russia has over 1,030 cases of COVID-19, including four fatalities and 45 recoveries thus far.

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