Russian leader Putin says he will be vaccinated against Covid-19 on March 23

MOSCOW (REUTERS) – Russian President Vladimir Putin will get vaccinated against Covid-19 on Tuesday (March 23), he said, amid a push by the authorities to encourage Russians to get the shot.

Mr Putin did not specify which vaccine he would take. The main vaccine publicly available in Russia is its Sputnik V, which it is promoting for export. Moscow has also given emergency approval to two other domestic vaccines, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac.

“Vaccination, of course, is a voluntary decision for every person. It is every person’s personal decision,” Mr Putin said at a televised government meeting on Monday about Russian vaccines against Covid-19. “By the way, I plan to do this tomorrow.”

He said it was vital to ramp up production of vaccines for domestic use in Russia, where 4.3 million people have so far received both doses of a two-shot vaccine.

He said Russia had signed international deals to supply doses of Sputnik V to 700 million people.

“Today we can say confidently – and practice indisputably confirms – that Russian vaccines are absolutely reliable and safe,” he said. “No other similar foreign drugs have shown such a high level of protection.”

Scientists last month said Sputnik V was almost 92 per cent effective in fighting Covid-19, based on peer-reviewed late-stage trial results published in The Lancet international medical journal.

According to Russia’s Rosstat statistics agency, more than 200,000 Russians had died of Covid-19 through January, giving it the world’s third highest death toll, behind only the United States and Brazil. A separate tally, updated daily by the government’s coronavirus task force, uses a much lower figure.

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