By Tony Winterburn • 05 December 2020 • 8:44
Russia Starts Sputnik V COVID Vaccinations in Moscow.
Russian state media said the country is starting its Covid-19 vaccination programme, with clinics in Moscow inoculating those most at risk from the virus, its own vaccine Sputnik V, which was registered in August, is being used. Developers say it is 95% effective and causes no major side effects, although it is still undergoing mass testing.
Thousands of people have already registered to get the first of two jabs over the weekend, but it is unclear how much Russia can manufacture. Producers are only expected to make two million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who announced the programme earlier in the week, said it was being offered to people working in schools and the health service, and social workers. He said the list would grow as more of the vaccine became available.
The news comes just two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the start of a “large-scale” COVID-19 vaccination by late next week, with doctors and teachers to be the first in line to receive the Sputnik V shots. Sputnik V has been touted in Russia as the world’s “first registered COVID-19 vaccine” after it received regulatory approval in early August.
The Kremlin says mass vaccination will be free of charge and carried out on a voluntary basis. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters he could not say whether Russia would need to import foreign-made vaccines.
It’s still unclear how high demand will be for Sputnik V. In one recent poll of Russians, 22% of respondents said they were willing to get a Russian-made vaccine, while 44% were not. In another poll, conducted by the country’s ruling United Russia party, 73% of respondents said they were not planning to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at all.
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