The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has ordered that a broad-based vaccination program against the coronavirus should begin in the country next week. He rejected the suggestion of a head of government that he should wait for a report on whether it could be implemented immediately.
In a video conference on Wednesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova Putin suggested waiting for a report on the country’s willingness to introduce a vaccine, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
But Putin replied: “Let’s reach an agreement. Do not contact me, but start next week with large-scale vaccinations”.
“I understand that we have to be careful, but I know that the industry and the network in general are ready,” Putin said: “Let’s take this first step.
In August, Russia was the first country to register the coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, although incomplete clinical trials and the speed of its development raised questions about its effectiveness. The developers of the vaccine say that an efficacy rate of 95 percent was demonstrated in phase three trials.
Golikova, Putin cautiously promised, “there is a chance for a large-scale vaccination in December,” the news agency reported.
Putin said that “more than two million doses have already been produced or will be produced in the next few days,” and added that “production of the first registered vaccine against the coronavirus infection Sputnik V will reach this level,” Tass reported.
The Russian president said a vaccination program could start with “the first two risk groups – doctors and teachers”.
“If you believe we are close to such a step, I ask you to organize the work so that we have already started this large-scale vaccination by the end of next week,” he added.
It comes as Putin tries to deal with the growing number of positive tests and deaths. Russia confirmed 25,345 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, making it the fourth highest number in the world at over 2.3 million. It also recorded 589 deaths, bringing the death toll to over 41,000.
Last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that more than 400,000 military personnel would be vaccinated, with about 80,000 to be vaccinated by the end of the year.
The Russian vector institute has developed the country’s second COVID vaccine called “EpiVacCorona”, which is expected to be released for civilian use in early December, Tass reported.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said that the capacity of hospital beds is being tested and Russia will have to import drugs from abroad due to the lack of products in its own country.
In addition to the vaccines that Russia is developing, it also produces some drugs domestically, such as coronavir and avifavir, both based on favipiravir, a common treatment for the disease, Reuters reported.
“Delivery volumes of anticoagulants have increased. But we are still seeing a shortage for the network, so we are working with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on additional supplies from abroad,” Murashko told government officials on Tuesday, the news agency reported.
Statista’s chart below shows the number of doses of vaccine that various countries have secured.