Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially ordered health authorities to start voluntary mass vaccinations against COVID-19 from next week.
The move, announced on Wednesday, came after Russia said last month that its domestically produced Sputnik V vaccine was 92% effective in protecting people from COVID-19, according to interim results.
The country will have produced two million doses of the vaccine in the coming days, Putin said, noting that teachers and doctors will be the first to receive vaccines.
“Let’s agree on this – you won’t report to me next week, but you will start mass vaccination…let’s get to work already,” he told the Deputy Prime Minister. Tatyana Golikova.
The Kremlin had previously given assurances that the Russians were the first to be vaccinated, with Moscow also discussing supply deals with other countries.
“The top priority are the Russians,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“The production in Russia, which is already under development, will meet the needs of the Russians.”
More than 100,000 people have already been vaccinated against the new coronavirus, according to Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, who presented the Sputnik V vaccine to the United Nations on Wednesday via video link.
With 2,347,401 infections confirmed on Wednesday, Russia has the fourth highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil.
It has recorded 41,053 COVID-19-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Authorities on Wednesday recorded 589 new daily deaths linked to the virus and 25,345 new infections.
The overall rise in the number of cases in the country has slowed, however, since it peaked on November 27, as officials resisted the imposition of lockdowns in a second wave of infections and opted instead to targeted regional restrictions.
In line with this approach, authorities in St. Petersburg, which reported 3,684 new cases in the past 24 hours, ordered bars and restaurants to be closed from December 30 to January 3rd in an effort to reduce transmission of the virus there. , reported the RIA news agency.
Museums, theaters and concert halls will also be closed to the public in the city of more than five million people during the New Year’s holiday in Russia, which runs from December 30th to January 10th.