MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will get a coronavirus vaccine shot on Tuesday, several months after widespread vaccination has started in Russia.
Kremlin opponents have criticized Putin for not getting vaccinated amid a comparatively slow rollout of the shot in Russia, arguing that his reluctance is fueling the already extensive hesitance about the vaccine. Russia, where only 4.3% of the 146-million population have received at least one dose, lags behind a number of countries in terms of the vaccination rate.
Putin told a meeting with government officials on Monday that he will get his shot “tomorrow,” without specifying which coronavirus vaccine out of the three approved for use in Russia he will take. According to the Russian president, 6.3 million people in Russia have already received at least one shot, and more than 4.3 million have had two doses.
“Today we can confidently say… that the Russian vaccines are absolutely reliable and safe,” Putin said. “It is an absolute success of our scientists and specialists.”
Despite skepticism about Russia’s hasty introduction of the vaccine, which was rolled out before it had completed late-stage trials, the vaccine appears to be safe and effective. According to a study published in the Lancet, Sputnik V is 91% effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19, although it’s still unclear if the vaccine can prevent the spread of the disease.