Moscow clinics have begun distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot, marking Russia’s first mass vaccination against the disease.
The vaccine isn’t for everyone, however.
While it will first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers, it is not being administered to those over the age of 60, pregnant women and people recovering from recent bouts of respiratory illness.
Russian officials defended the policy of denying the treatment to at-risk groups while keeping it from those most likely to come down with life-threatening reactions to the virus.
“You are working at an educational institution and have top priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge,” read a phone text message received by one Muscovite, an elementary school teacher, early on Saturday and seen by Reuters.
Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, registered 7993 new cases overnight, up from 6868 a day before and well above the daily tallies of about 700 seen in early September.
“Over the first five hours, 5000 people signed up for the jab – teachers, doctors, social workers, those who are today risking their health and lives the most,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his personal website on Friday.
— R.M.Hanfi. (@RiyazHanfi) December 4, 2020
Russia has developed two COVID-19 vaccines – Sputnik V, backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund and another developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute, with final trials for the both yet to be completed.
Scientists have raised concerns about the speed at which Russia has worked.
The Sputnik V vaccine is administered in two injections, with the second dose expected to be given 21 days after the first.
Russia reported 28,782 new infections on Saturday, its highest daily tally, pushing the national total to 2,431,731, the fourth highest in the world.