Russian President Vladimir Putin, on Wednesday, ordered officials to begin mass voluntary vaccinations against COVID-19 next week as the country recorded 589 new daily deaths due to coronavirus. He added that Russia will have produced 2 million vaccine doses within the next few days. The country had last month claimed that its Sputnik V vaccine was 92% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 according to interim results.
“Let’s agree on this – you will not report to me next week, but you will start mass vaccination…let’s get to work already,” Putin told Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, who announced that the large-scale vaccination could begin voluntarily in December. The President also noted that teachers and medics will be the first to receive the jab.
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, while presenting Moscow’s Sputnik V vaccine to the United Nations over a video link, had revealed that over 100,000 people have already been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the country.
With 2,347,401 infections, Russia currently has the fourth-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world after the United States, India and Brazil, with 41,053 deaths recorded since the start of the pandemic. The rise in infections has slowed since reaching a high on November 27, and 25,345 new cases were reported on Wednesday. Russia has resisted imposing lockdowns during the second wave of the virus, substituting it with targeted regional curbs.
The Kremlin has earlier given assurances that Russians would be the first in line to be vaccinated, with Moscow also discussing supply deals with other countries. “The absolute priority is Russians,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Production within Russia, which is already being developed, will meet the needs of Russians.” The authorities in St Petersburg, which reported 3,684 new infections on Wednesday, ordered bars and restaurants to close from December 30 until January 3, to combat the rise in cases. Also, for the duration of Russia’s New Year holidays, from December 30 to January 10; museums, theatres and concert halls would be closed to the public in the city of more than 5 million people.