Moscow (Reuters) has started distributing its own Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine via 70 clinics, in a mass move, to the most exposed groups, Saturday 5 December 2020. According to Reuters, this marks “Russia’s first large-scale vaccination against the disease, the city’s coronavirus task force said”.
Doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers will be the first to have the Russian made vaccine available to them, because they are in the highest risk group of exposure to the disease. The Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a nationwide voluntary vaccination program which begins next week. Putin has said that Russia will have produced 2 million vaccine doses in the next few days.
A text message received by a Muscovite who is an elementary school teacher, early on Saturday, (seen by Reuters) reads, “You are working at an educational institution and have top-priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge.”
Kirill Dmitriev, Head of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said while speaking to the BBC on Friday that Russia expects about 2 million people to have received the vaccine this month (Dec 2020).
The city of Moscow has been the epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, with it’s population of around 13 million people. On Saturday, it reported 7,993 new cases, which is a rise from 6,868 Friday and way above the number of around 700 a day recorded early in September.
People with certain underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and those who suffered respiratory attacks in the past two weeks will not be vaccinated, and age 60 will be the cap for those receiving shots.
There are two Covid-19 vaccines developed by Russia, the Sputnik V, (with support from the Russian Direct Investment Fund) and one by Siberia’s Vector Institute. The final trials for these vaccines are not yet completed.
Scientists are worried about Russia’s speed to produce these vaccines, based on regulatory procedures for it’s vaccines and the launching mass of vaccinations before full trials, which should enable them to be properly tested for safety and efficacy. The administration of Sputnik V vaccine occurs by two injections, and within 21 days after the first one, the second injection is expected to be given.
Tatiana Golikova, the Deputy Prime Minister, on Friday, said that those vaccinated should avoid public places. They should also reduce their intake of alcohol and medicine, as taking any of these might suppress their immune system within the first 42 days of taking the first vaccine.
Moscow shut all it’s public places in late March with the exception of delivery services. This included parks and cafes and the police patrolled the streets in search of anyone violating the rules. Those restrictions were later relaxed from mid-June.
Some types of restrictions, remote learning for some secondary school children, were introduced in October. The country also imposed a limit on the number of people physically working in the office to 30%. Despite this, Russia still managed to report 28,782 cases of new infections on Saturday, its highest daily number so far. This brought it to a national total of 2,431,731 which is the fourth-highest in the world.
Twitter commentators expressed a wide range of mixed feelings, from positive, in-between, opposite, to unfounded. These include the following:
News Source: Reuters and Twitter