On Saturday, Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot through 70 clinics, marking Russia’s first mass vaccination against the disease, the city’s task force on coronavirus said.
The task force stated that first of all, the Russian-made vaccine would be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers, and social workers because the risk of exposure to the disease was highest.
“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 early on Saturday by one Muscovite, an elementary school teacher, and seen by Reuters.
The epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, Moscow, recorded 7,993 new cases overnight, up from 6,868 a day before and well above the daily count of about 700 seen at the beginning of September.
Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his personal website on Friday, “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,”
For those getting shots, the age is capped at 60.
Vaccination is barred for individuals with certain underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and those who have had a respiratory illness for the past two weeks.
Two COVID-19 vaccines, Sputnik V, supported by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and another developed by the Siberian Vector Institute, have been developed by Russia, with final tests for both still to be completed.
Scientists have raised concerns about the speed at which Russia has been working, giving its vaccines the regulatory go-ahead and launching mass vaccinations before the completion of full tests to test their safety and efficacy.
The Sputnik V vaccine is administered in two injections, with the second dose expected to be administered 21 days after the first In late March, Moscow closed all public places, including parks and cafes, with the exception of delivery, with police patrolling the streets in search of those that violated the rules.
On Saturday, Russia as a whole recorded 28,782 new infections, its highest daily tally, pushing the national total to 2,431,731, the world’s fourth-highest.
Some restrictions were again introduced in October, such as remote learning for some secondary school children and a 30 percent limit on the number of employees allowed in offices.