Get Sputnik Jab, Putin Tells Erdogan

President Vladimir Putin told Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday he should use Russia’s Sputnik for his next booster jab and boasted of high antibody levels as he hosted the Turkish leader for talks.

In a warm exchange after three hours of talks at Putin’s residence in the resort city of Sochi, Putin said he had recently spent an entire day with an infected aide but had not contracted the coronavirus.

“I have high levels of antibodies, thank God I got lucky,” Putin told Erdogan in his palm tree-lined residence.

“So next time you get vaccinated again (use) Sputnik,” Putin said in remarks broadcast on state television.

Erdogan said he had already had a Pfizer booster jab and had an antibody level of 1,100.

“Next time then,” Putin replied.

Erdogan said nothing and just laughed.

Earlier this month the 68-year-old Kremlin chief spent two weeks in self-isolation after dozens of cases were detected in his inner circle.

On Wednesday, Russia recorded 857 new coronavirus fatalities, its highest coronavirus death toll for a second day running, as infections rise driven by the Delta variant and slow vaccination rates.

The new figure brought the country’s total deaths from Covid-19 to 206,388 — the highest in Europe.

Authorities have been accused of downplaying the severity of the outbreak.

Several Russian vaccines including Sputnik have been available for months, but authorities have struggled to inoculate a vaccine-sceptic population.

As of Wednesday, just under 30% of the Russian population had been fully vaccinated, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid data from the regions

Slovakia Ends Vaccination With Russia’s Sputnik V Amid Slow Uptake

Slovakia on Tuesday announced it will halt the use of the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine due to low demand among its population.

“Today Tuesday is the last day when citizens of Slovakia who wanted to vaccinate can get the second dose of the Sputnik vaccine,” the state-run TASS news agency quoted the European Union member’s health ministry as saying.

In total, only 18,500 Slovak citizens are said to have received both doses of the Russian vaccine. Slovakia had sold most of its Sputnik V doses back to Russia this summer, citing low demand.

Slovakia first received 200,000 doses of Sputnik V in March of this year despite the vaccine not yet being authorized by the EU. Its purchase of the vaccine pushed the small central European country into a political crisis that ended in the resignation of Prime Minister Igor Matovič after his coalition partners accused him of acquiring the vaccine without their approval.

Sputnik V’s EU approval has been beset by repeated delays since the bloc launched a rolling review of the vaccine this spring. Last month, Reuters reported that the EU’s review of Sputnik V could be delayed until after the summer over data shortcomings and the vaccine maker’s perceived lack of experience with overseas regulators.

Hungary is currently the only EU country to have bought and used considerable quantities of Sputnik V.

A recent Russian independent real-world study of the jab’s effectiveness in combating severe infections showed that the vaccine was 81% effective at preventing hospitalization among people who had contracted a symptomatic infection of the more-contagious Delta variant.

Peer-reviewed research published in The Lancet in February placed its effectiveness at preventing Covid-19 infection at 91.6%.

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