Moscow begins vaccinating high-risk workers against Covid-19

On Saturday, Moscow began vaccinating workers at high risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus at newly opened clinics across the city.

Health officials said they had opened 70 coronavirus vaccine centers in the Russian capital that would originally offer jabs for health, education and social workers.

“Citizens from the main risk groups who come into contact with a large number of people in connection with their professional activities can be vaccinated,” said officials.

Russia was one of the first countries to announce the development of a vaccine, Sputnik V – dubbed after the Soviet time satellite – in August but before the final clinical trials began.

It is currently in its third and final stage of clinical trials with approximately 40,000 volunteers.

Sputnik V’s developers last month said that interim results showed that the vaccine was 95 percent effective and would be cheaper and easier to store than some alternatives.

Jab uses two different human adenovirus vectors and is administered in two doses with a 21-day gap.

The vaccine will be free for all Russian citizens and virginity will be voluntary.

Health officials on Saturday said that during the first rollout in Moscow, jab would not be available to workers over 60, those with chronic illnesses, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

They did not say when the vaccine would be available to the public.

Mass vaccinations planned for the military

On Friday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said 5,000 people had registered to be vaccinated within the first five hours after the online registration was opened.

AFP journalists at one of the new centers on Saturday saw queues as people waited their turn.

“I want to be sure that the coronavirus will not infect me and my loved ones,” said Sergei Buslayev, a 42-year-old insurance worker.

“I want to be able to go to the gym safely and live my life normally again,” he added.

Mass vaccination began when Russia set a new daily record for coronavirus infections.

On Saturday, health officials reported 28,782 new infections, bringing the national number to 2,431,731 cases since the pandemic began – the fourth highest fall burden in the world.

Despite the sharp increase in cases, Russia has not introduced the type of nationwide deadlock seen in some parts of Europe, although restrictions have been imposed in some major cities.

Instead, they pinned their hopes on ending the pandemic on vaccines.

On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin called on health officials to launch extensive vaccinations next week, adding that Russia has produced nearly two million doses of Sputnik V.

Last month, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that a mass vaccination campaign has been launched into the military, aiming to inoculate more than 400,000 military personnel, including 80,000 by the end of this year.

Russia’s polling station Levada showed in a recent survey that only 36 percent of respondents were prepared to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.