Putin calls on public to take the coronavirus vaccine


Russian President Vladimir Putin seen speaking on the screen during his annual press conference, on December 17, 2020, in Moscow, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — Russia’s President Vladimir Putin called on the public to get the coronavirus vaccine, but is yet to receive it himself, he said.

Speaking at his annual press conference Thursday, Putin encouraged the Russian public to take the vaccine, called “Sputnik V,” and said he would receive it as soon as he was able to.

“Our health care professionals say the vaccines … are meant for people of certain ages … people like me are not yet allowed to take vaccines. I am a law-abiding citizen and I always listen to what our health care professionals say, therefore I haven’t been inoculated yet but I will surely do that as soon as it is permitted.”

“Our vaccine is effective, and it’s safe, so I see no reason why we should be afraid of getting a shot,” he said, adding that Russia’s priority was to vaccinate its own citizens and that it would be building up its production capacity to do so.

Sputnik V has been tested on volunteers aged 18-60 and thus it is currently only being recommended for people between those ages. As Putin is aged 68, he does not qualify.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is backing Russia’s vaccine, confirmed to CNBC Thursday that the vaccine is only recommended for people aged 18-60 and that a separate trial is currently being carried out in the 60-plus age group to see if it’s “safe and efficient” for older people.

Vaccinating the old and especially those with underlying health needs is seen as a priority by most experts given that they are most vulnerable to dying from Covid-19. In the U.K., where the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is already being rolled out to the public, the elderly and health care workers are the first in line to receive it.

Trials in over-60s

Russian news agency Tass reported back in October that the first group of volunteers aged 60 and older had been vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V, with the trial involving a total of 110 people.

The first group of volunteers comprised 28 members, including people with chronic conditions typical for the elderly, such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic renal insufficiency. The oldest person in the group was 82 years of age, Tass reported.

The chief Researcher of Russia’s Central Clinical Hospital, Nikita Lomakin, who was said to be heading up the trials, was reported as saying that no negative reactions had been observed in is first group.

Later in October, the head of the Gamaleya Federal Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology said people over 60 will develop Covid-19 antibodies after vaccination, but they may be less effective than those produced by younger people.

“Vaccination has definitely started, a certain number of people aged 60, 70, maybe even 80 has been vaccinated. We do not expect anything out of the ordinary, there will be no additional side effects, they will develop antibodies. The only thing is to what extent the antibodies will neutralize the virus: younger people develop antibodies that interact with the virus very well, while the elderly develop antibodies that interact with the virus much less — dozens or even hundreds times less,” Gamaleya’s Alexander Gintsburg said, Tass reported.



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