18.01.2022

Russia, After Confusion, Says Coronavirus Re-Vaccination Possible

Russian health officials said Tuesday that re-vaccination with any of Russia’s domestically produced coronavirus vaccines after receiving the country’s Sputnik V shot is possible, clarifying earlier remarks suggesting that antibodies could destroy future vaccine components.

Natalia Pshenichnaya, senior epidemiologist at national consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said earlier in the day that the Sputnik V shot’s long-term effectiveness could make future booster doses obsolete.

“If you vaccinate with the same vaccine of the same composition, then its components could be destroyed by the antibodies that are stored in our organism,” she had said.

In a subsequent statement on Rospotrebnadzor’s website, Pshenichnaya said her comments had been “misinterpreted.”

“What was meant is that revaccination with the EpiVacCorona and KoviVak vaccines is possible after 1-2 years of vaccination with Sputnik V,” she said, referring to the two other Russian-made jabs.

The confusion surrounding revaccination comes amid Russia’s already slow vaccination campaign, with about 4 million out of some 146 million Russians receiving both doses in the two months since the rollout began.

President Vladimir Putin is set to receive one of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccines Tuesday — though out of the public eye — in hopes of reversing Russians’ vaccine skepticism.

Recent independent polling showed nearly two-thirds of Russian respondents calling Covid-19 a manmade biological weapon and less than one-third willing to get vaccinated.

A peer-reviewed study published last month assessed Sputnik V’s effectiveness at 91.6%. More than 50 countries have approved Sputnik V so far.

Russia Withdraws Security ‘Reserve’ From Belarus Border

Russia has withdrawn a rapidly formed unit of “law enforcement reserves” that had been standing by to intervene in Belarus if the country’s post-election unrest got out of hand, the Kremlin said Monday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Aug. 27 that he has formed the unit of law enforcement officers at the request of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin said it would be deployed as soon as “extremists start plundering” amid sustained demonstrations against Lukashenko’s disputed presidential election victory Aug. 9.

Putin and Lukashenko agreed at a summit in southern Russia that the unit will stand down, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said following their talks Monday evening.

On Tuesday morning, Russian state television showed what it said were live images of truckloads of the units returning to their areas of deployment.

Meanwhile, Russian troops arrived in Belarus on Monday for 10-day “Slavic Brotherhood 2020” drills. Serbia, which was originally scheduled to join the drills, pulled out at the last minute.

The Belarusian defense ministry said Tuesday that it did not rule out a military response to outside threats.

In the wake of widespread post-election protests, Lukashenko has ordered multiple war games, stepped up border security and deployed troops in Minsk as a show of force.

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