|Photograph: Sergey Kisilev/Moscow News Agency/EPA|
(theguardian) - Moscow’s coronavirus taskforce said on Saturday that it was distributing the Sputnik V vaccine to 70 clinics, marking Russia’s first mass Covid-19 immunisation.
The taskforce said the Russian-made vaccine would be made available first 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 text message received by one Moscow school teacher early on Saturday.
Moscow, the centre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, registered 7,993 new cases overnight, up from 6,868 a day before. This compares with about 700 new cases a day registered in early September.
“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,” the mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, wrote on his personal website on Friday.
The age for those receiving shots is capped at 60. People with certain underlying health conditions, pregnant women and those who have had a respiratory illness for the past two weeks are barred.
Russia has developed two Covid-19 vaccines, Sputnik V, which is backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and one developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute. Final trials for both are yet to be completed.
Scientists have raised concerns about the speed at which Russia has worked, giving the regulatory go-ahead for its vaccines and launching mass vaccinations before full safety and efficacy trials had been completed.
The Sputnik V vaccine is administered in two injections, the second dose given 21 days after the first.
Moscow closed all public places including parks and cafes in late March, with the exception of delivery, and police patrolled the streets looking for whose violating the rules. Restrictions were eased from mid-June.
Russia as a whole 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.
Restrictions such as remote learning for some secondary schoolchildren and a 30% limit on the number of workers allowed in offices were reintroduced in October.
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