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Putin will be vaccinated against the coronavirus on Tuesday in Russia.

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Putin will be vaccinated against the coronavirus on Tuesday in Russia.
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Putin will be vaccinated against the coronavirus on Tuesday in Russia.

Putin will be vaccinated against the coronavirus on Tuesday in Russia.

 

President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that he would receive a coronavirus vaccine injection, several months after the country’s universal vaccination program began.

Opponents of the Kremlin also chastised Putin for refusing to get vaccinated despite the vaccine’s relatively sluggish introduction in Russia, claiming that his hesitancy is adding to the vaccine’s already widespread skepticism. Russia lags behind a range of countries in terms of vaccination rates, with just 4.3 percent of the 146 million people receiving at least one dose.

According to surveys conducted by Russia’s leading independent pollster, the Levada Center, the number of Russians who are hesitant to get vaccinated with Sputnik V has increased in recent months, increasing to 62 percent in February from 58 percent in December. The Kremlin has stated that there is no connection between Putin’s refusal to be vaccinated and public confidence in the Russian COVID-19 vaccine.

Putin, 68, said he’ll get his coronavirus vaccine “tomorrow” at a meeting with government officials and vaccine developers on Monday, without mentioning which of the three coronavirus vaccines approved for use in Russia he’ll get.

Three domestically produced shots have received regulatory approval from Russian authorities. Sputnik V was accepted last August to great fanfare at home and widespread criticism abroad, despite the fact that it had only been tested on a few dozen people at the time.

However, according to a recent report published in the British medical journal The Lancet, the Sputnik V vaccine is 91 percent successful and appears to protect inoculated individuals from becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, but it is still uncertain if the vaccine will prevent the disease from spreading.

EpiVacCorona and CoviVac, two other Russian vaccines, have also gained regulatory approval ahead of late-stage trials that experts say are needed to ensure their safety and efficacy in accordance with existing clinical protocol. These trials are still underway for EpiVacCorona, although CoviVac was expected to start in March. There has been no information released on the effectiveness of these two vaccines.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, also declined to say which of the three he would pick on Tuesday, saying only that “all of them are fine and accurate.”

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, 6.3 million people have already received at least one injection, with over 4.3 million receiving two doses.

Putin said that in order to obtain herd immunity, 60 percent of Russian adults must be vaccinated, requiring 69.8 million vaccinations. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, about 8.9 million two-dose sets of Sputnik V and over 115,000 two-dose sets of EpiVacCorona have been released into circulation in Russia as of March 17.

Putin said, “Today, we can confidently claim… that Russian vaccines are completely effective and secure.” “Our scientists and experts have achieved complete success.”

Why hasn’t the president been vaccinated yet? Putin and his spokesperson have been asked this question many times. Sputnik V was not recommended to citizens of a certain age, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who added that “vaccines have not yet reached people like me.”

The vaccine was only available to people aged 18 to 60 at the time, but Russian health authorities cleared the vaccine for those over 60 just two weeks after Putin’s remarks.

Putin decided to get vaccinated this year at the end of the summer or the beginning of the fall, according to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper. Putin reportedly told Russian media executives in a closed-door meeting that he didn’t want to do it for the sake of publicity in front of cameras and that he already had other vaccinations planned.

Peskov said on Monday that Putin’s vaccination on Tuesday will not be a “public event.”

Behind the slow launch at home, Russia has been aggressively marketing Sputnik V abroad, in what some observers see as a bid to score geopolitical points. Several countries have agreed to use Sputnik V and have signed agreements with Russia to receive shipments of the satellite. The vaccines’ export, however, has been delayed, raising concerns about Moscow’s ability to follow through on its commitments.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which funded the vaccine, signed agreements with pharmaceutical companies in several nations, including India, South Korea, Brazil, Turkey, and, most recently, Italy, in order to increase demand. On Monday, Putin claimed that such agreements amounted to 700 million vaccines per year.

“The use of the Russian Sputnik V is spreading across the globe. Despite deliberate discrediting of our vaccine, numerous hoaxes, and sometimes outright nonsense, more countries around the world are showing interest in our vaccine,” Putin said.

The Russian president took aim at European Union leaders, who have expressed reservations about using Sputnik V despite the bloc’s criticism for a sluggish vaccine rollout.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, who heads the European Commission’s vaccine task force, told French television on Sunday that Sputnik V is “completely unnecessary” for the EU.

Putin dismissed the assertion as “bizarre,” arguing that Russia was “not forcing anything on anybody,” and questioned whether European officials defend the interests of “any pharmaceutical firms or the interests of European citizens.”

While Sputnik V has yet to be approved for use in the EU, the European Medicines Agency, or EMA, began a rolling review of the vaccine earlier this month.

Hungary became the first EU country to sanction Sputnik V for use last month, while Slovakia announced a deal last week to procure 2 million Sputnik V doses, sparking a political crisis in the country.

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