Putin orders Russia to begin large-scale COVID-19 vaccinations next week
President Vladimir Putin ordered a large-scale voluntary vaccination programme against COVID-19 to begin next week across Russia, saying teachers and doctors should be first in line to get the country’s flagship Sputnik V vaccine, Trend reports citing Reuters.
Putin gave the order during an online meeting with ministers on Wednesday, a day when Russia, which has the fourth highest number of recorded infections in the world, registered 589 new daily deaths from the coronavirus.
Putin said Russia will have produced 2 million vaccine doses within the next few days.
Sputnik V, one of two Russian-made vaccines to have received domestic regulatory approval so far despite clinical trials being incomplete, requires two injections. A third vaccine is in also in the works.
Russia said last month that the Sputnik jab 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 large-scale vaccination... Let’s get to work already,” Putin told Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova.
“I understand that you’re using very careful language and it’s absolutely right that we are cautious. But I know that industry and the (health) network are in general ready. Let’s take this first step.”
Russia has already vaccinated more than 100,000 high-risk people, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said during a separate presentation to the United Nations about Sputnik V.
According to the presentation, more than 45,000 people are currently participating in Sputnik V trials worldwide.
The rise in infections in Russia has slowed since reaching a high on Nov. 27, with 25,345 new daily cases reported on Wednesday.
Russia has resisted imposing lockdowns during the second wave of the virus, preferring targeted regional curbs.