Vladimir Putin to have Russian-made Covid vaccine in private

Russian president won’t have first dose in public after delaying jab for months

弗拉基米尔普京 is scheduled to receive his first dose of a Russian-made coronavirus vaccine later on Tuesday, after months of delaying his jab, in an apparent effort to boost Russia’s fledgling vaccination drive.

A Kremlin spokesman on Tuesday said that Putin would receive one of the three Russian-made vaccines but would release few other details of the vaccination, saying that journalists would have to “trust his word” that he had been inoculated.

“The president has already done a lot to popularise the vaccine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “As to being vaccinated on camera, 出色地, he has never been a fan of that, he doesn’t like that.”

It was a peculiar description of a president who has regularly undressed on camera during summer holidays in Siberia, a baptismal dip in an ice-cold pool in January, and even at medical checkups in the past.

And the Kremlin decision to shroud Putin’s vaccination in secrecy is even odder considering the likely boost that Putin’s on-camera endorsement would give Russia’s vaccination drive.

As of this week, 只要 4.3% of Russians have received at least one dose of the country’s vaccine, predominately Sputnik V, which began mass distribution in December. In the United Kingdom, more than half the adult population has received at least one does of vaccine, and in the United States, 14% of the population have been fully vaccinated. Even in Germany, where the vaccine rollout has been viewed as a debacle, 大约 9% of the population has had at least one jab.

Russia’s vaccination rates have more resembled those in India and China, where a number of factors, including infection rates, quarantine measures, different risk profiles and government distrust, have kept vaccination rates below 5%.

Leaders of other countries including Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and neighbouring Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy have been vaccinated on camera to allay public concerns about the hastily developed vaccines. The highest-ranking official in 俄罗斯 to have been vaccinated publicly is the defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.

Putin announced on Monday that he was planning to be vaccinated but took special care to make clear that vaccinations in Russia would remain voluntary: “Vaccination, 当然, is a voluntary decision for every person. It is every person’s personal decision,” Putin said during a televised government meeting on Monday about Russian vaccines against Covid-19. “By the way, I plan to do this tomorrow.”

Russians’ resistance to vaccination is partly rooted in belief in conspiracy theories and in distrust of the Russian-made vaccine, which was rushed to market late last year.

多于 60% of Russians polled by the Levada Centre in February said they did not plan to be vaccinated (in many cases because of cold-like side-effects) and a similar figure said that they believed that the coronavirus was an artificial bioweapon rather than a naturally occurring disease that began the epidemic in a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year.

Russia has sought to wield its first vaccine, Sputnik V, as a tool for geopolitical influence in other countries. Putin has called for Russia to export its vaccine to more nations around the world and more than 40 countries have to some degree registered or approved Sputnik V for emergency use. More than 1.2bn doses of the vaccine have been ordered, raising questions about whether Russian production capacity is up to the task.

Two other domestic vaccines, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac, have also been approved for use in Russia. Peskov said that the Kremlin was not releasing the name of the vaccine used to inoculate Putin in order to avoid favouritism. “We won’t tell you on purpose which vaccine exactly it will be. All three Russian vaccines are absolutely reliable. They’re very good, reliable and efficacious,” Peskov said.

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