While the Covid-19 immunization campaign is lagging behind in his country, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on his compatriots, Friday, June 4, to be vaccinated, while wishing that foreigners also come to do so in Russia. “I want to ask our fellow citizens to seize this opportunity” to be vaccinated for free, he pleaded during the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum (SPIEF), before ordering his government to work on “the organization conditions for paying vaccination of foreigners in our country ”.
“The Russian vaccine is recognized as the safest,” he said, explaining that only 10% of the world population has been vaccinated so far while “hundreds of millions of people do not have access to vaccines ”. “As long as we do not have widespread access to vaccines […] on all continents, the risk of an epidemic will not disappear, ”he continued.
In a question-and-answer session, Vladimir Putin then returned to the approval in Europe of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V. It is under review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), a procedure that takes too much time in Moscow’s eyes. “I think it’s a race for money on the part of those who produce this vaccine in other countries and want to exploit the European market, and they are doing it with their usual brilliance, they are good at it” , he assured.
Strong mistrust of vaccination in Russia
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, participating in the videoconference discussion, said he hoped “the approval will be completed soon,” according to Russian words translated from German. The master of the Kremlin has already stepped up several times to call on his fellow citizens to be vaccinated, while the pace is very slow mainly because of mistrust of the vaccine.
Officially, nearly 11 million Russians have received the two necessary doses so far, or around 8% of the population. According to a poll carried out in April by the independent Russian institute Levada, more than 60% of those questioned do not intend to be vaccinated, despite figures of new contaminations which have not fallen for several weeks.
Russia was the first country in the world to announce that it had approved a vaccine against the coronavirus in August 2020, called Sputnik V, even before the end of clinical trials. Two more have since been authorized, in addition to a “light” version of Sputnik V in a single dose. The country would have one of the worst results of the pandemic. According to the statistics agency Rosstat, about 250,000 deaths were linked to him at the end of March, more than double the toll recognized to date by the government in its daily accounts.