(Bloomberg) — President Vladimir Putin said Russia should begin a general vaccination of the population against Covid-19 next week.
“Let’s take this first step,” Putin said Wednesday at a videoconference with officials on the opening of new hospitals built by the Defense Ministry for Covid-19 patients. More than 2 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine will be ready for use within the next few days and “this gives us the opportunity to start vaccination on a mass scale,” he said. Russia has a population of about 145 million.
Russia has the world’s fifth-highest number of cases globally, with more than 2.3 million, and reported a daily record death toll of 589 on Wednesday. Putin announced the registration of Sputnik V in August as the world’s first vaccination against Covid-19, and a second inoculation was approved in October, even as Phase 3 trials to establish safety and efficacy are still taking place.
Officials have been saying for months that “mass” vaccination would start this year, while some manufacturers have expressed concerns about production constraints.
Putin’s announcement that Russia is beginning large-scale public vaccination came on the same day as U.K. authorities cleared a vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BionTech SE for use from next week, the first western country to give approval for an inoculation.
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