President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russian authorities to begin mass voluntary vaccination against COVID-19 next week as Russia recorded 589 new daily deaths from coronaviruses.
Putin said that Russia has produced 2 million vaccine doses within the next few days. Russia said last month that its Sputnik We Jab was 92% effective in protecting people from COVID-19 according to interim results.
Putin told Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, “Let’s agree on this – you won’t report to me next week, but you will start mass vaccination.”
Golikova said mass vaccinations could begin in December on a voluntary basis.
With 25,345 new cases reported on Wednesday, the increase in infection has slowed, reaching a high on 27 November. Russia has protested the imposition of a lockdown during the second wave of the virus, which prioritizes targeted regional sanctions.
With 2,347,401 infections, Russia has the fourth highest number of COVID-19 cases behind the United States, India and Brazil. Since the onset of the epidemic, there have been 41,053 deaths related to COVID-19.
The Kremlin had earlier assured that Russians were the first to be vaccinated, with Moscow also discussing supply deals with other countries.
“The absolute priority are Russians,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “Production within Russia, which is already developing, will meet the needs of the Russians.”
The RIA news agency reported that authorities in St. Petersburg reported 3,684 new infections on Wednesday, ordering the bar and restaurant to close by 30 December.
The museum, theater and concert hall in the city of more than 5 million people will be closed to the public for the duration of Russia’s New Year holiday from 30 December to 10 January.
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