All but nine Russian regions have begun administering coronavirus vaccines nearly two months into the country’s nationwide vaccination campaign, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
Russia, the world’s fourth-most affected country by Covid-19, launched the campaign in mid-January with senior officials forecasting 60% herd immunity as early as August.
“Some Russian regions, I think it’s nine, have not yet started vaccination,” Putin was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency.
He linked the delays to “problems with logistics, distribution and locations” and said the Health Ministry is “actively working” with the Cabinet on bringing the vaccines to the remaining regions.
Putin estimated that 2 million Russians have received both doses of the two-dose vaccine so far, while another 2 million received the first dose.
Some 7.8 million doses of Sputnik V have entered civilian circulation as of Thursday, according to the head of medical quality control at Russia’s health watchdog Roszdravnadzor.
Recent public polling has shown growing vaccine hesitancy among the Russian population, with three out of five respondents saying they don’t want the Sputnik V jab.
Russia authorized Sputnik V months ahead of Western competitors in August, fueling concerns that it had done so ahead of mass safety and efficacy trials. A peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet last month said Sputnik V is 91.6% effective against symptomatic Covid-19.
Russia has since registered two other Covid-19 vaccines ahead of their mass clinical trials.
85% of Russian Coronavirus Vaccine Volunteers See No Side Effects
Around 85% of Russian volunteers who receive the country’s highly touted coronavirus Sputnik V vaccine report no side effects, according to the developer of the adenovirus-based shot.
The state-run Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology became the first in the world to register a Covid-19 vaccine in August before final clinical trials began the following month. The double-blind trial for Sputnik V’s long-term safety and effectiveness involves 40,000 volunteers, 10,000 of whom are expected to receive a placebo.
Alexander Gintsburg, the head of Moscow-based Gamaleya, told state television that Sputnik V’s side effects include a fever of 38 degrees Celsius, headaches and muscle pain.
“Such side effects are observed in approximately 15% of the vaccinated people,” Gintsburg told Rossia 24, according to the state-run TASS news agency.
“So it’s not difficult to understand that 85% of vaccinated people experience no side effects or any inconvenience,” he added.
The figures are consistent with those observed in the early stages of Sputnik V’s final trials, when approximately 15% of 300 volunteers in September had complained of weakness, muscle pain and an occasional fever.
Gintsburg estimated that around 19,000 Russians have received the first shot of the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine so far and 6,000 have received both.
Several high-ranking government officials have reported taking part in the Sputnik V trials.
Around 50 countries have said they plan to purchase or were looking to purchase the vaccine.
Russian state-backed researchers have developed two other Covid-19 vaccines, which are undergoing various stages of government approval and clinical trials.
Meanwhile, Russia notched another record of 17,347 new Covid-19 cases Monday, pushing the overall number of infections to the world’s fourth-highest at 1.53 million.
Polls have said that almost half of Russians do not plan to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at any point.