Moscow has begun distributing a Russian-made COVID-19 vaccine, marking Russia’s first mass immunisation effort against the disease.
The city’s coronavirus task force said the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot would first be made available via 70 clinics to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers because they ran the highest risk of exposure to the disease.
“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 elementary school teacher in Moscow.
Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, registered 7,993 new cases overnight, up from 6,868 a day before.
“Over the first five hours, 5,000 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.
The age for those receiving shots is capped between ages 16- 60 years. (It means President Vladimir Putin is not eligible as he is older and his office has also not yet indicated whether he will take the jab)
People with certain underlying health conditions, pregnant women and those who have had a respiratory illness for the past two weeks are barred from vaccination.
Russia has developed two COVID-19 vaccines: Sputnik V, which is backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund and another developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute.
Final trials for both vaccines are yet to be completed.
Scientists have raised concerns about the speed at which Russia has worked.
It has given the regulatory go-ahead for its vaccines and launched mass vaccinations before full trials to test for safety and efficacy had been completed.
The Sputnik V vaccine is administered in two injections, with the second dose expected to be given 21 days after the first.
Moscow closed down all public places including parks and cafes, with exception for delivery, in late March.
Police have been patrolling the streets looking for those violating the rules.
Restrictions were eased from mid-June, however.
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.
Adapted from agencies