Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope that the country can avoid a nationwide lockdown amid a surge in new infections
MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday expressed hope that the country could avoid a nationwide lockdown amid a surge of new infections.
Speaking on a live call-in show, Putin said decisions by local authorities in several regions, which have made vaccinations mandatory for some workers, should help prevent a new wave of infections and avoid lockdowns.
“The actions of our allies in some areas are aimed at avoiding the need for a lockdown, when entire enterprises are shut down and people are left without their jobs, without their pay,” Putin said.
He also revealed that he chose Sputnik V – the first domestically developed coronavirus vaccine Russia authorized for use in the world – for his vaccination. Putin took his first coronavirus shot out of the public eye in late March, and has remained tight-lipped about which of the three home-grown vaccines he has chosen are available.
“I’ve really been asked not to say which vaccine I took so as not to have a competitive advantage for one or the other,” Putin said during Wednesday’s call-in show. “But I see there are a lot of questions.”
Putin said the Russian president said he was not consulting his doctors about this, but looked at the options of his acquaintances, and went for Sputnik V, as it provided the longest protection against the virus.
Russia granted the Spuntik V regulatory approval last August and has faced criticism both at home and abroad, as the shot had only been tested on a few dozen people at the time. However, this year a report in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet has blunted the criticism, saying large-scale trials showed it to be safe, with an efficacy rate of 91% against the virus.
Russia has struggled in recent weeks to cope with a surge in infections and deaths that comes amid slowing vaccination rates. Coronavirus deaths in Russia set a new daily record on Wednesday, with authorities reporting 669 new deaths.
Russia has been recording more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases and nearly 600 deaths every day since last Thursday. On Wednesday, 21,042 new cases were registered.
Russian officials have attributed the rise, which began in early June, to Russians’ lax attitude toward taking necessary precautions, the rising prevalence of more infectious forms and backward vaccination rates. Although Russia was among the first to announce and deploy a coronavirus vaccine, more than 15% of the population has received at least one shot.
Russia’s coronavirus task force has reported more than 5.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 135,214 deaths in the pandemic.
Amid the boom, 18 Russian regions – from Moscow and St Petersburg to the Far Eastern region of Sakhalin – have this month made vaccinations mandatory for employees in certain sectors such as government offices, retail, health care, education, restaurants and more. other service industries.
Confirming his position that vaccination should be voluntary, Putin insisted that decisions by local authorities were based on law and strict measures were necessary to stop the outbreak.
Along with his annual marathon news conference, the carefully choreographed call-in show aims to portray Putin as a strong leader caring for the daily needs of the people and attentive to their problems.
More than 20 lakh questions were sent to the show’s hotline.