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Emergence of ‘Olympic’ coronavirus variant unlikely, Vector Center says

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MOSCOW, July 22. /TASS/. The emergence of a new coronavirus variant at the Tokyo Olympics is not likely because strain mutations occur in densely populated areas and with intensive human interaction, head of the branch of the Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing in Yekaterinburg Alexander Semenov told TASS.

“The emergence of a new ‘Olympic’ coronavirus variant at the Olympics is not likely because the number of Olympic athletes who will go there equals no more than [the population of] a small settlement anyway, there are only several thousand of them,” he said.

The scientist explained that the mutations occur in densely populated areas, such as in Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK. “For a virus to evolve, numerous contacts of large groups of people are needed,” he added.

Earlier, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned about the threat of the emergence of a coronavirus strain more dangerous than Delta which may resist the existing vaccines. According to him, inoculation of 70% of the population of each country by the middle of next year will allow to stop the pandemic of the novel coronavirus and relaunch the world economy.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo were initially scheduled to be held between July 24 and August 9. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Games were postponed for a year and are now scheduled for the period from July 23 to August 8. The organizers decided to hold the Games without foreign fans, and local spectators won’t be admitted either to the Olympic events in six Japanese prefectures, including Tokyo. According to the latest data, at least 79 individuals involved in the Olympics tested positive for the presence of the coronavirus infection, including four athletes already located at the Olympic Village in Tokyo.

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