President Vladimir Putin has said he will get a coronavirus vaccination on Tuesday, months after a widespread rollout started in Russia.
Speaking at a meeting with government officials, Mr Putin said he will get his shot “tomorrow”, without specifying which vaccine out of three approved for use in Russia he will take.
Kremlin opponents have criticised Mr Putin for not getting vaccinated amid the comparatively slow rollout in Russia, arguing that his reluctance is fuelling the already extensive hesitance about the vaccine.
Russia, where only 4.3% of the 146 million population have received at least one dose, lags behind a number of countries in terms of the vaccination rate.
According to the Russian president, more than six million people in Russia have already received at least one shot, and more than four million have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Widespread vaccination with the domestically developed Sputnik V shot started in Russia in December, but has so far been going slower compared with many other countries.
“Today we can confidently say… that the Russian vaccines are absolutely reliable and safe,” Mr Putin said. “It is an absolute success of our scientists and specialists.”
Despite scepticism about Russia’s hasty introduction of the vaccine, which was rolled out before it had completed late-stage trials, the vaccine appears to be safe and effective.
According to a study published in the Lancet, Sputnik V is 91% effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with Covid-19, although it is still unclear if the vaccine can prevent the spread of the disease.
Two other Russian vaccines, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac, have also received regulatory approval before completing late-stage trials necessary to ensure their safety and effectiveness. These trials are still ongoing and no data on efficacy of these two vaccines have been released.
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