Covid 19 coronavirus: Vladimir Putin orders mass vaccination, with teachers and doctors first

Just hours after the UK approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine and announced immediate plans for vaccination, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a “large-scale vaccination” campaign using the Russian jab which was rushed out this summer.

Russia’s Sputnik V in August became the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved after Putin revealed that his own daughter was inoculated.

The interim analysis of clinical trial data has shown that the Sputnik V jab was 95 per cent effective 42 days after the first dose was administered on par with two other leading vaccines.

Sputnik V’s developers, however, have yet to release full clinical data of their Phase III trials.

That did not stop Putin from ordering Russia’s health officials on Wednesday to launch a vaccination campaign as early as late next week since 2 million doses “have been produced or will be produced in the coming days”.

“This makes it possible for us to roll out if not a mass then a large-scale vaccination campaign, primarily among the risk groups of health care workers and teachers,” he told a televised conference call with government officials in charge of dealing with the pandemic.

“Let’s make this first step.”

Russia on Wednesday reported a record-high 589 deaths and 25,345 new confirmed cases as the pandemic keeps raging.

Several Russian officials have mentioned an early date for mass vaccination but Sputnik V faced problems with scaling up the production.

Tatyana Golikova, Russia’s deputy Prime Minister, confirmed to Putin on Wednesday that Russia would be in a position to launch vaccination at state-run clinics next week and that it will be free and voluntary.

Russia will produce 2 million two-shot doses of the vaccine this month purely for its own needs, Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund which is backing the development, said during an online presentation at the UN later in the day.

His fund has also signed production agreements with several countries, receiving as many as 1.2 billion orders for the jab which will be available abroad starting next year.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, Sputnik V can be stored at the fridge temperature, helping to cut the costs of storage and transportation.

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