Russian President Vladimir Putin has received his first vaccination against Covid-19 away from cameras, his spokesman has said.
Speaking about Mr Putin, Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call that “when it comes to getting vaccinated on camera, he has never supported that, he doesn’t like that”.
Mr Peskov would not reveal whether Mr Putin went to a vaccination facility or the shot was brought to him in his office or residence, saying only that “it will done in a way that would the least affect” Mr Putin’s working schedule.
Mr Putin announced that he would get vaccinated at a government meeting several months after widespread immunisation against Covid-19 kicked off in Russia.
Kremlin critics have argued that Mr Putin’s reluctance to get vaccinated was contributing to the already existing hesitancy about the vaccine.
Only 6.3 million people, or 4.3% of Russia’s 146 million population, have received at least one dose of a vaccine. It lags behind a number of other countries in terms of the vaccination rate.
Surveys by Russia’s top independent pollster, Levada Centre, have shown that the number of Russians reluctant to get vaccinated with the domestically developed Sputnik V shot has grown in recent months – to 62% in February from 58% in December.
Pressed by reporters over whether Mr Putin should get vaccinated on camera in order to boost slow vaccination rates, Mr Peskov argued that Russians “will hear” about the president’s vaccination and that Mr Putin is already doing “a lot” for promoting the vaccination campaign.
“The president … dedicates a rather significant time in his working hours to events, discussions, meetings related to vaccination, production of vaccines and so on. So the president does a lot for propaganda of the vaccines,” Mr Peskov said.
The Kremlin spokesman refused to reveal which of the three vaccines authorised for use in Russia Mr Putin will receive, saying only that all three are “absolutely good, reliable, effective”.
Russian authorities have given regulatory approval to three domestically developed shots — Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac. All three received the authorisation before completing advanced trials experts say are necessary to ensure their safety and effectiveness in line with established scientific protocol.
However, a recent study in The Lancet showed that Sputnik V is 91% effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with Covid-19, although it is still unclear whether the vaccine can prevent the spread of the disease. No data on efficacy of the two other vaccines have been released.
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