Putin orders start of Russia’s mass COVID vaccination programme
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country’s authorities to begin mass voluntary vaccinations against COVID-19 from next week onwards.
The move, announced on Wednesday, came after Russia said last month that its domestically produced Sputnik V vaccine was 92 percent effective at protecting people from COVID-19, according to interim results.
The country will have produced two million doses of the vaccine within the next few days, Putin said, noting that teachers and medics will be the first to receive shots.
“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,” he told Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.
The Kremlin earlier gave assurances that Russians were first in line to be vaccinated, with Moscow also discussing supply deals with other countries.
“The absolute priority are Russians,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“Production within Russia, which is already being developed, will meet the needs of Russians.”
More than 100,000 people have already been inoculated against the novel coronavirus, according to Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, who presented the Sputnik V vaccine to the United Nations over video link on Wednesday.