Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 52.2021
2021.12.27 — 2022.01.02
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Putin hopes to continue Russian-Indian dialogue on security in Eurasia and across globe (Путин надеется на продолжение российско-индийского диалога по безопасности в Евразии и мире) / Russia, December, 2021
Keywords: vladimir_putin, quotation

The Russian president noted the high level of Russia-India relations of a special privileged strategic partnership

MOSCOW, December 30. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent his Christmas and New Year congratulations to the Indian authorities and expressed hope for the continuation of a constructive dialogue between the two countries on security on the Eurasian continent and in the world, the Kremlin press service reported.

"The Russian head of state expressed hope that in the coming year, the two countries would continue their constructive dialogue both via bilateral ties and within BRICS, the SCO, the G20, the UN, and other multilateral organizations, for the benefit of the friendly peoples of Russia and India and in the interests of enhancing security and stability in Eurasia and across the globe," the statement reads.

In the messages of greetings to the leaders of the Republic of India, President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Russian President noted the high level of Russia-India relations of a special privileged strategic partnership, as fully demonstrated by the results of recent talks held in New Delhi. "The implementation of the agreements reached will help further expand productive Russia-India cooperation in various areas," Putin stated.

The Russian leader also sent congratulations to his other BRICS colleagues. In his message to President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, Putin stressed that the strategic partnership between Moscow and Brasilia in the outgoing year was quite successful. Vladimir Putin expressed hope for continued constructive dialogue and joint activities bilaterally and within BRICS, the G20, the UN, and other multilateral associations and organizations.

BRICS Strategic Partnership Strengthened Under India's Chairship (Стратегическое партнерство БРИКС укрепилось под председательством Индии) / India, December, 2021
Keywords: chairmanship, expert_opinion, partnership

Facing a torrent of global challenges such as a pandemic of epic proportions and resurgent protectionism and hegemonism, China and Russia, two of the world's major countries, are holding hands even tighter to boost their strategic partnership, and jointly help anchor a chaotic world in this turbulent era.

As the world is undergoing profound changes rarely seen in a century, a mature, stable and solid China-Russia relationship that has emerged from all kinds of tests with new vigor is needed and hard won. Strategic guidance by the heads of state of the two countries has all along played a crucial role in deepening high-level political mutual trust and long-term friendship between the two sides.

Since 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, have met 37 times on various occasions. In their latest meeting on Wednesday, their second virtual meeting this year, the two leaders hailed their "model" China-Russia relations, and are working toward stronger relations next year.

Under the auspices of the two presidents, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era has already established itself as an important diplomatic and strategic asset shared by both sides. It has also brought both countries closer together as they wrestle with all sorts of external challenges.

This year marks 20th anniversary of the signing of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. In their first meeting via video earlier this year, Xi and Putin issued a joint statement, officially extending the treaty.

With the pact, China and Russia over the years have respected each other's development paths and firmly supported each other on issues concerning their core interests.

Today, with bilateral ties growing even stronger, the China-Russia relationship has become one based on the highest level of mutual trust, coordination and strategic value, which has laid a rock-solid political foundation for fruitful bilateral cooperation.

Despite the still raging pandemic, all-round practical cooperation between China and Russia has continued to flourish. Bilateral trade in the first three quarters of 2021 exceeded 100 billion U.S. dollars for the first time, and the year-round volume is expected to hit a new record.

In March, China and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly establishing an international scientific research station on the moon. And during the China-Russia Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation, which concluded last month, the two sides held more than 1,000 events to promote scientific innovation and cooperation.

Major projects have also played a key role in energizing the overall cooperation of the two countries. In May, the No. 7 and No. 8 units of the Tianwan nuclear power plant and the No. 3 and No. 4 units of the Xudapu nuclear power plant started construction. It is the biggest China-Russia joint project in the field of nuclear energy so far.

The global community is witnessing in consternation how some countries have relapsed into a Cold War mentality and attempted to divide the world into hostile camps while they dictate the global rules of the road.

To safeguard global peace and security, justice and fairness, China and Russia have become key stabilizing forces for the world by adhering to the principle of non-alliance, non-confrontation and the non-targeting of any third party.

They firmly oppose any interference in other countries' internal affairs under the pretext of "democracy" and "human rights," and resist unilateral coercive sanctions. Take the smearing campaign against the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games by some Western countries. The Russian side has expressed unambiguously its opposition against politicizing sports. President Putin is set to attend the opening of the games in a show of support.

The two countries are also strong supporters of true multilateralism. Both have pledged to safeguard the international system with the United Nations as its core and an international order based on international law. They have also vowed to deepen coordination on hot-button issues within multilateral frameworks like the UN Security Council, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS mechanism.

Officials and experts have hailed the current state of China-Russia relations as the best in history, with no limit to bilateral strategic cooperation.

Looking into the future, China and Russia, with their steady commitment to their comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, the best days of bilateral ties are still to come. This immensely troubled world will stand to benefit.

India, Russia Reinvigorate Bilateral Ties (Индия и Россия активизируют двусторонние отношения) / India, December, 2021
Keywords: expert_opinion, cooperation

Some hard-nosed calculation based on realpolitik paved the way for the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Delhi, for the Covid-interrupted 21st annual India-Russia Summit. The timing of the meeting, just before the Biden-Putin virtual summit and the conference of democracies hosted by the US President, was significant. The last in-person summit was in 2019 when PM Modi travelled to Vladivostok. Putin had set the tone for the visit by calling India one of the authoritative centres of the multipolar world whose foreign policy philosophy and priorities are close to that of Russia. He also hinted at new large-scale initiatives for the privileged bilateral partnership. While all such meetings have their optics and substantive components, the Modi-Putin summit certainly addressed the perception that India and Russia had allowed strategic gaps to emerge in their worldview. The substantive outcome of the summit was a 99-para joint statement and around 26 bilateral agreements.

There are several fundamental congruences in the global approach of the two countries. Apart from rejuvenating old ties of friendship and dispelling the sense of drift, the visit was a clear signal of the commitment to a multipolar international order and reinforced strategic balance as an enduring factor in ties between nations. Both countries are hedging against any structural imbalance in the international order that might affect the two nations. Change is inevitable and the summit sent the signal that despite changes and shifting priorities, both countries wish to maintain strategic ties. Call it coincidence that the summit took place after 50 years of the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Friendship of August 1971 and the ongoing celebrations to mark 50 years of Bangladesh's War of Liberation, where both played significant roles.

With parts of the S-400 missile defence system supplies landing in India, despite the threat of US sanctions under CAATSA, and the defence deals signed with Russia, New Delhi has broadened her strategic autonomy space. The 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers before the summit mirrors a similar format with the US. The Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation (IGCMTC) is new and will add greater depth and stability to bilateral ties, which are not without dissonance. Russia has been critical of the Quad and AUKUS, viewing both as platforms for pressurising Beijing and Moscow. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been voicing criticism publicly, adopting the role of a "bad cop". Putin has been far more circumspect in this regard. India has kept her lines of communications open and participated in other plurilateral fora like the BRICS, SCO and RIC. India does not view her close ties with Western countries such as the US, France, UK and Germany as affecting her relations with Russia.

Defence ties have been a consistent feature of India-Russia ties and modernisation of the military has become a high priority, triggered by China's aggression and expansionism. Almost 60% of India's military hardware is of Russian origin. The agreement on the manufacture of AK-203 rifles in India with Russian technology transfer will re-equip and upgrade the capability of India's soldiers, who are still using the old INSAS rifles. Co-production and manufacture of four frigates and supply of the SU-MKI and MiG-29 aircraft were among the other defence deals. The agreement for mutual provision of logistics eluded conclusion but remains on the agenda. Last moment changes in the text did not leave time for getting Cabinet Committee approvals. India already has a logistics agreement with the US (LEMOA), Australia and France. A similar agreement with Japan is also under negotiation. Beyond defence, bilateral ties have grown in the energy sector, wherein India's growing requirement of oil and gas matches Russia's proven ability to meet this demand. Moscow has agreed for "preferential pricing" for oil and gas supplies and also agreed to route them via the northern Arctic route. Some progress in collaboration in the downstream petrochemical sector is in the offing. In the nuclear sector, Russia has been a collaborator of long standing and this sector is likely to see greater cooperation. In Bangladesh, India and Russia are collaborating to set up the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

One weak pillar of the bilateral relationship is trade. India-Russian trade languishes at around $10 billion. India-Bangladesh trade is around the same. While bottlenecks exist, both governments must focus urgently on this and a joint task force should be mandated to come up with options if the new trade target of $30 billion is to be achieved by 2025. The International North-South Trade Corridor (INSTC) has the potential to connect landlocked Central Asia to the Chabahar port and establish trade linkages. Russia is a demographically challenged country. The aging population and its rate of growth are below replacement rates. India has the advantage of a young populace that can be harnessed for sectors like farming in Russia's vast land area.

In the coming decades, India's foremost challenge is to counter the China-Pakistan axis. While Russia has been pushed into a closer embrace with China, primarily on account of Western sanctions, she cannot be comfortable with Beijing's increasing footprint in her economy and in Central Asian states. India and Russia have no outstanding bilateral disputes. Both share long borders with China and the Kautilyan proposition of reaching out to the nation beyond your neighbour is as relevant today as before. Neither wants a China-dominated Asia or a China-centric international order. During the India-China LAC clashes, Russia was quick to respond to India's military requirements, a fact that would not have gone unnoticed in Beijing.

As a declining power, Russia will not be averse to the building up of deterrence against China, for which she will need India and also Quad and the AUKUS, though she will not participate in these initiatives. Russian and Indian strategic interests are aligned in the Eurasian region. In Afghanistan, initial differences over the Taliban may have occurred but in the current scenario, both share the concern over terror spilling over into J&K and Central Asia. The announcement that the leaders of Central Asian nations—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—have been invited as guests for the next Republic Day celebrations and the earlier meeting of the NSAs of these nations and Russia in Delhi are indications of a renewed outreach. The pandemic witnessed cooperation and India added Russia's vaccine Sputnik-V to the list of approved vaccines at home and for export. While cooperation in the defence, energy and space sectors will continue, bilateral ties have to expand in trade, tourism and other sectors to sustain ties in the long run.

Pinak Chakravarty is a Visiting Fellow with ORF's Regional Studies Initiative, where he oversees the West Asia Initiative, Bangladesh and selected ASEAN-related issues. A former member of the Indian Foreign Service (1977 batch), he has served as a diplomat in Indian Diplomatic Missions in Cairo, Jeddah and London.

Observer Research Foundation

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of InfoBRICS.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
COVID-19 and the BRICS Economies (COVID-19 и экономики БРИКС) / India, December, 2021
Keywords: off_docs, covid-19, economic_challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic-induced crisis has led to significant economic losses and made the social fabric of the BRICS countries fragile by amplifying unemployment, poverty, gender disparity and migration risks, according to the BRICS Economic Bulletin released recently. The BRICS grouping consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The Reserve Bank of India released the bulletin prepared by the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) Research Group with members from BRICS central banks. India is the current chair of the BRICS. The CRA Research Group was set up to enhance research, economic analysis and surveillance capacity of the BRICS.

The crisis has indiscriminately affected all countries, adding that the BRICS were no exception as they have also been seriously hit by the pandemic and are trying to recover from it, the bulletin said. However, there is a significant heterogeneity among the BRICS in the duration and intensity of the pandemic.

"While China could largely contain the spread of the debilitating infection, other BRICS countries have witnessed multiple waves of infection," it said.

The COVID crisis has led to significant economic losses and made the social fabric of the BRICS fragile by amplifying unemployment, poverty, gender disparity and migration risks, the bulletin noted.

As per the bulletin, there is convincing evidence of a recovery of the BRICS from the deep, pandemic-induced contraction in 2020. However, the recovery shows significant divergence amongst the BRICS members.

"China has been able to control the infections effectively which has aided its quick recovery. While the pace of economic growth is gradually picking up in India and Brazil, Russia and South Africa are yet to return to their pre-pandemic levels of economic activity," it said.

Further, the bulletin said that since the threat of COVID remains unabated in the BRICS, it is difficult to estimate the robustness of this recovery.

"Going forward, the pace and efficacy of vaccination is going to be the most important determinant of economic recovery," it said.

According to the bulletin, if the growth momentum in the BRICS countries, especially in China, slows down, global recovery could also see further headwinds to its growth momentum.

Apart from the uncertainty from COVID, tightening of global financial conditions and persistent economic and structural changes arising from the crisis are other factors engendering concern in the BRICS countries, it said.

The bulletin also said that BRICS countries should seize the opportunities that might emerge amid the crisis by planning for and working towards a bright post-pandemic future. * * *

Excerpts from BRICS Economic Bulletin

The health crisis of COVID-19 turned into an economic crisis and resulted in one of the deepest recessions experienced in many decades. The April 2021 WEO estimated that about 95 million people have fallen below the threshold of extreme poverty in 2020 compared with pre-pandemic projections. The International Labour Organisation, while studying the impact of COVID-19 on labour markets for 2020, estimated an 8.8 percent decline in working hours, 8.3 percent decline in global labour income and employment losses to the tune of 81 million. The lockdown imposed by several countries has resulted in considerable job losses in informal sectors and an exodus of migrant workers. The medium and long-term impact of the coronavirus is still unfolding as the pandemic continues to rage globally. To draw a comparison with the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920, Barro, studied the macroeconomic impact of the Flu and estimated that it resulted in a 6 percent decline in real GDP per capita and 8 percent decline in real consumption. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is still not behind us, it is difficult to estimate the total economic losses due to COVID-19.

It was a challenging task to frame appropriate policies which are calibrated to the stage of the pandemic, emerging economic situation, and socio-economic circumstances of individual countries. Countries responded to the pandemic with aggressive fiscal and monetary policy support measures with a view to alleviating the adverse impact of the pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of the people. The IMF WEO April 2021 observed that unprecedented economic policy actions have prevented far worse outcomes with an estimation that the collapse could have been about at least three times as large had it not been for the swift policy support worldwide. The BRICS countries, like others, have also been proactive in providing policy support with a view to shielding against the adverse economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerating the economic recovery post-COVID. In this process, the BRICS countries have used both conventional and unconventional measures.

While the first half of 2020 was a tale of lockdown and stringent containment, the second half of 2020 was more about opening up. While the first half of 2020 was a story of contraction, the second half of 2020 witnessed economic variables touching the pre-pandemic levels.Green shoots of economic activity have become visible; the leading indicators suggest a faster recovery; many countries have come out of negative growth and the balance of payments (BoP) variables have started behaving in a pre-pandemic mannerin the second half of 2020. So, the preliminary evidence during this period was pointing to resilience and recovery of economies in H2: 2020. However, subsequent surges in infections in the form of multiple waves and with multiple variants having greater transmissibility and lethality, raises questions about the pace, path and robustness of the recovery, going ahead.

While there are expectations of a stronger recovery in the second half of 2021 and 2022 formost of the BRICS countries, multiple issues remain to be resolved. The pertinent questions relate to divergences in the speed of recovery both across and within countries and the potential for persistent economic and structural changes arising from the crisis. While many economic indicators indicate a recovery, how robust would this recovery be? What other factors would shape the trajectory of the recovery? What structural changes would the current crisis lead to? Obviously, these are difficult questions to answer at this juncture. However, we will be able to provide some indicative answers to these questions by focusing on the behavior of economic variables, responses to the policy support, evidence of recovery and future risks and challenges.

Against the above backdrop, the BRICS Bulletin 2021, prepared by the CRA Research Group, would focus on the 'BRICS Experience of Resilience and Recovery'. The 2020 BRICS Economic Bulletin compared the economic situation during COVID-19 pandemic (H1: 2020) with the pre-pandemic period and covered policy support and potential future areas of cooperation. While this year's Bulletin will provide a continuity to the narrative set in last year's Bulletin, it would primarily explore the evidence of resilience and recovery after H1: 2020. This assessment would reveal the strength and weakness of the BRICS economies in the short to medium term, indicating the reforms needed to strengthen post-pandemic growth impulses.

A BRICS collaborative study has been undertaken by a group of researchers from the BRICS central banks for the first time in 2021. The study has focused on the dynamics of balance of payments (BoP) in the BRICS during the COVID-19 period. It has made an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 crisis on balance of payments in the BRICS economies and the dominant channel of transmission vis-а-vis previous crises.

NDB admits Egypt as new member (NDB принимает Египет в качестве нового члена) / China, December, 2021
Keywords: ndb

The New Development Bank (NDB) – established by BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in 2015 – has admitted Egypt as a new member.

NDB's Board of Governors authorized the Bank to conduct formal negotiations with prospective members in late 2020. After a round of successful negotiations, NDB started expanding its membership in September 2021 with the admission of Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uruguay. Egypt is the fourth new member admitted into NDB, further expanding the Bank's global outreach.

"We are delighted to welcome Egypt into NDB's family. Egypt is one of the world's fastest growing countries, a major economy in the African continent and the Middle East region as well as a key player in development finance institutions. We look forward to supporting its investment needs in infrastructure and sustainable development," said Mr. Marcos Troyjo, President of NDB.

"Egypt is a firm believer and supporter of multilateralism. The NDB has established itself as one of the premier Multilateral Development Banks for Emerging Markets and Developing countries. Egypt fully embraces the decision to join the NDB family and looks forward to building a strong partnership and engagement with the Bank over the coming years. Egypt is reaping the fruits of its consistent efforts to enhance its economy's resilience and to diversify its funding sources. NDB's strong financing capabilities and relevant expertise would help Egypt meet its financing needs and enhance its efforts to upgrade its infrastructure base while also meeting its ambitious SDG goals," said Dr. Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance of Egypt.

Egypt will have in NDB a new platform to foster cooperation in infrastructure and sustainable development with BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries. Membership to NDB becomes effective once the admitted country completes its domestic processes and deposits the instrument of accession.

Since its establishment six years ago, NDB has approved about 80 projects in all of its member countries, totaling a portfolio of US$ 30 billion. Projects in areas such as transport, water and sanitation, clean energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure and urban development are within the scope of the Bank.

NDB's membership expansion is in line with the Bank's strategy to become the premier development institution for emerging economies and developing countries.

Background information

NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development. NDB has an authorized capital of US$ 100 billion, which is open for subscription by members of the United Nations.

World of Work
Joint Statement Russian-South African Scientific Mission to Study of New Coronavirus Infection (Совместное заявление российско-южноафриканской научной миссии по изучению новой коронавирусной инфекции) / South Africa, December, 2021
Keywords: covid-19, research, social_issues
South Africa

Joint statement on the results of the Russian-South African Scientific Mission to study features of the new coronavirus infection caused by the "omicron" variant of the SARS-COV-2

Russian-South African scientific mission to study the clinical and epidemiological characteristics of the new coronavirus infection caused by the genetic variant omicron (hereinafter referred to as the Mission) was organized in accordance with the agreement between the presidents of Russia and the Republic of South Africa and took place in South Africa from 13 to 22 December 2021.

From the Russian side, 20 leading scientists and experts of Rospotrebnadzor and the Ministry of Health of Russia took part in the Mission, including representatives of the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian Research Institute "Microbe" of Rospotrebnadzor, the State Scientific Center of Virology and Biotechnology "Vector" of Rospotrebnadzor, the Volgograd Research Institute of Rospotrebnadzor, etc.

From the Republic of South Africa, leading scientists and experts from the Department of Health, South African Medical Research Council, National Institute of Communicable Diseases, National Health Laboratory Network, Stellenbosch University, Durban University, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, and Jubilee District Hospital of Gauteng Province took part in the mission.

During the mission the parties organized three working groups (epidemiological, virological and clinical) and consulted on the full spectrum of issues related to fighting the new coronavirus infection, including features related to the omicron variant in the areas of epidemiology, laboratory diagnosis, virological monitoring, immunology, clinical features, and therapy of infection.

The consultations were held in a spirit of openness, scientific interest and with a focus on the development of both bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the fight against infectious diseases within BRICS.

Scientists from the RSA provided information on the epidemiological situation, organization of laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19, genetic monitoring, assessment of features of the "omicron" strain of the SARS-CoV-2. There was an opportunity to learn the structure of the country's healthcare system, the algorithm of patients triage and national protocol of medical care for patients with COVID-19, level I-III
hospitals in the province of Gauteng.

There were organized visits to central and district medical institutions, and diagnostic laboratories in Johannesburg and Pretoria. South African scientists shared information on the features of the identification and differentiation of the new variant "omicron" from other variants circulating in the population, including on the basis of clinical data.

Russian scientists shared their experience in fighting new coronavirus infection, organizing epidemiological monitoring, studying the genetic features of the infectious agent of coronavirus infection, assessing the immune status of those infected and vaccinated in the context of protection against new genetic variants of the coronavirus.

The participants of the joint mission discussed the features of a new coronavirus infection caused by the omicron strain and its impact on the spread of infection, the severity of the clinical course, medical care and vaccination. In the course of the mission data were obtained on the epidemiological characteristics of the new genetic variant and the features of its distribution in the RSA. The increased transmissibility of the omicron variant from person to person has been shown, resulting in increased incidence (the baseline reproductive rate increased to 2.5 in December, doubling time of 3.18-3.61 days) and an increase in the positive sample rate to 35.5% with no indication of a more severe clinical course.

It is noted that considering the significant number of South African residents who have had COVID-19 and demographic differences, the data on clinical severity can be adjusted in the conditions of the spread of the omicron variant in the Russian Federation.

It was noted that young age groups played a significant role at the initial stage of the spread of infection. It was also shown that the densely populated Tshwane district, which includes the capital city of Pretoria and which is near to the economic hub of Johannesburg, was the location of the initial clusters of transmission of the genetic variant "omicron".

A phylogenetic lineage independent of the "delta" and "beta" variants and the possibility to use genotyping PCR assay for rapid identification of a new SARSCoV-2 virus gene variant have been convincingly demonstrated. There is a high incidence of SARS-CoV2 infection in younger patients, especially in children in the initial stages (up to 50% of all patients seeking medical care for various reasons are infected), clinical characteristics of influenza, large number of asymptomatic cases and population seropositivity of up to 70% in the RSA.

The course of the disease is more severe among unvaccinated people with risk factors, especially in older age groups, high frequency (15-20% overall) of reinfection and infection in vaccinated people is characterized by a milder course. During the mission, Russian specialists made a presentation of the Rospotrebnadzor mobile laboratory which is mounted on an automobile chassis. The possibilities of its joint use for epizootological monitoring of dangerous infections in remote areas of South Africa were discussed.

Based on the results of the joint Mission, the participants agreed on:

  • Taking into account the need to develop bilateral scientific cooperation in the field of fighting epidemics;
  • Noting the contribution that scientists from Russia and the RSA are making to global efforts to combat the pandemic of a new coronavirus infection;
  • Expressing commitment to the protection of public health as the primary goal of the fight against the pandemic;
  • Emphasizing that anti-epidemic measures should be scientifically justified, noted that:
The level of monitoring for a new coronavirus infection in South Africa made it possible to promptly identify a new genetic variant of concern, called omicron, and to inform the international community of the risks associated with its spread; The study of epidemiological features, clinical characteristics, molecular and genetic properties of circulating pathogens, and cooperation of existing national and regional sequencing networks underlie the identification of new virus variants with high epidemic potential;

Studies of the efficiency of immunological protection both after vaccination and after a previous disease or their combination show that compared to the initial variant, the degree of neutralization of the omicron variant is reduced from 3 to 41 times, depending on immunological status. Thus, the disease, followed by vaccination or re-vaccination, is likely to increase the effectiveness of neutralization
and provide protection from the severe course of the disease when infected with the "omicron" variant;

Scientific cooperation and data exchange serve as the basis for making sciencebased decisions, including restrictions on cross-border movement. Taking into account the global spread of the omicron variant, which has already been identified in 94 countries of the world and the newly obtained data on the danger of a new genetic variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the further ban on air traffic between
states has lost its relevance;

Openness, commitment to a common task to fight coronavirus infection pandemic and close cooperation between scientists of the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Africa give confidence in the soonest victory of world science over the pandemic;

Scientists of the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Africa are intensifying the exchange of data and research results in the field of epidemiology, virology, immunology, pathogenesis and therapy of new coronavirus infection. As a result of the joint mission, other areas of scientific cooperation in the field of epidemic prevention and response were identified and a draft road map for scientific cooperation between Russia and the RSA in this area for 2022-2024 was developed.

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