State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR
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|Jurisdiction||Government of the Russian Federation|
|Headquarters||Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Oblast, Russia|
|Parent agency||Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing|
The State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR, also known as the Vector Institute (Russian: Государственный научный центр вирусологии и биотехнологии „Вектор“), is a biological research center in Koltsovo, Novosibirsk Oblast, Russia. It has research facilities and capabilities for all levels of Biological Hazard, CDC Levels 1–4. It is one of two official repositories for the now-eradicated smallpox virus,[a] and was part of the system of laboratories known as the Biopreparat.
Recently the facility has been upgraded and secured using modern cameras, motion sensors, fences, and biohazard containment systems. Its relative seclusion makes security an easier task. Since its inception there has been an army regiment guarding the facility.
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Organized in 1974, the center has a long history of virology, making impressive Soviet contribution to smallpox research. Genetic engineering projects included creation of viruses that manufacture toxins as well as research on bioregulators and various peptides that function in the nervous system. In the post-Soviet times the center made research and development contributions in many projects like a vaccine for Hepatitis A, influenza vaccines, vaccines for the Ebola virus, antiviral drugs with nucleotide analogs, test-systems for diagnostics of HIV and Hepatitis B and other development.
COVID-19 vaccine development
In March 2020 it was reported that Russian scientists have begun to test vaccine prototypes for the new coronavirus disease, with the plan of presenting the most effective one in June, a laboratory chief at Vector Institute said. The prototypes have been created and the testing on animals began.
In July 2020, research by the centre in found that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can be killed in room temperature water within 72 hours, helping further research about the disease during the pandemic.
The main tasks of the Center according to VECTOR:
- Basic research of causative agents of especially dangerous and socially important viral infections, and their genetic variability and diversity, pathogenesis of viral infections.
- Ensuring constant readiness for implementing diagnostics of especially dangerous infectious agents.
- The development and introduction into healthty practice of diagnostic curative and preventive medicines.
- Post-graduate training, and scientific training of higher qualification in the field of Virology, molecular biology and biotechnology through graduate school and higher education.
On 30 April 1988, Dr Nikolai Ustinov died when 44 years of age, 14 days after accidentally pricking himself through two layers of rubber gloves with a needle contaminated with the Marburg virus. The long-term goal of the research was to weaponise it for use on the MIRV missiles that are aimed at the United States. Ustinov wrote a diary for the last ten days of his life. It is said "he sweated blood directly from the pores of his skin, and left bloody fingerprints on the pages of his diary." But all was not in vain! Cultures of the virus killed Ustinov live on and some of his remains lie in a freezer from where other more careful ghouls can harvest fresh batches. "Variant U" is so potent that under six microscopic particles lodged in the lungs of a monkey will guarantee its gruesome death.
Fifteen years later, on September 17, 2019, a gas explosion occurred at Vector. One worker suffered third-degree burns, and the blast blew out window panes. The lab has highly contagious forms of bird flu and strains of hepatitis. The explosion happened in a decontamination room that was being renovated by a contractor.
- Nellis, Kathy (October 26, 2007). "Smallpox Eradication Memories and Milestones". The Global Health Chronicles. Retrieved June 28, 2014.
- "Vector Institute in Novosibirsk, Siberia: Where Russia stores its smallpox". Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- "Is Siberia a Safe Place for Smallpox?". Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- United States. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities. (11 October 2013). Biodefense: Worldwide Threats and Countermeasure Efforts for the Department of Defense : Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, Hearing Held October 11, 2013. p. 34. Google Books website Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- "Coronavirus updates". March 17, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- "State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR / Institute of Molecular Biology". Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- "About The Center". Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- "Russia to test coronavirus vaccine prototype on animals". Retrieved March 17, 2020.
- "Scientists figure out a weakness of coronavirus: Ordinary water". mint. August 1, 2020. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
- "Water at boiling temperature can completely destroy novel coronavirus, say Russian scientists". www.timesnownews.com. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
- Preston, Richard (March 9, 1998). "THE BIOWEAPONEERS". pp. 52-65. The New Yorker.
- Miller, Judith (May 25, 2004). "Russian Scientist Dies in Ebola Accident at Former Weapons Lab". The New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
- "What happened after an explosion at a Russian disease research lab called VECTOR?". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. November 27, 2019. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
- "Blast sparks fire at Russian laboratory housing smallpox virus". The Guardian. September 17, 2019. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
- Lentzos, Filippa (November 27, 2019). "What happened after an explosion at a Russian disease research lab called VECTOR?". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
- State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR homepage (in English and Russian)
- About the center (in Russian)
- NPO Vector at Globalsecurity.org