Putin Orders Start of Mass Covid-19 Shots Hours After U.K. News
(Bloomberg) -- President Vladimir Putin said Russia should begin general vaccination of the population against Covid-19 next week, the same day the U.K. became the first western country to approve a vaccine for use.
“Let’s take this first step,” Putin told officials Wednesday during a video conference on the opening of Covid-19 hospitals built by the Defense Ministry. More than 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine will be ready for use within the next few days and “this gives us the opportunity to start vaccination on a mass scale,” he said.
Russia has the world’s fifth-highest number of cases globally, with more than 2.3 million, and reported a daily record death toll of 589 on Wednesday. The country has a total population of about 145 million people.
Putin announced the registration of Sputnik V in August as the world’s first vaccination against Covid-19, and a second inoculation was approved in October, even as Phase 3 trials to establish safety and efficacy are still taking place. Since then, officials have said “mass” vaccination would start soon even as some manufacturers expressed concerns about production constraints.
So far more than 100,000 Russians have been vaccinated, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said during a video presentation of Russia’s vaccine to the United Nations.
About three-fourths of those people are medical volunteers outside the clinical trial, said Kirill Dmitriev, head of the state-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund, which is backing the vaccine. Russia is seeking approval for Sputnik V use in 40 countries, he said at a briefing after the U.N. session.
Putin’s announcement that Russia is beginning large-scale public vaccination came on the same day as U.K. authorities cleared a vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BionTech SE for use from next week.
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