Shafaq News/ Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot via 70 clinics on Saturday to the most exposed groups, marking Russia’s first large-scale vaccination against the disease, the city’s coronavirus task force said.
The Russian-made vaccine will first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers because they run the highest risk of exposure to the disease.
President Vladimir Putin has ordered a nationwide voluntary vaccination program to begin next week. He said Russia will have produced 2 million vaccine doses within the next few days.
Russia has already vaccinated more than 100,000 high-risk people, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said earlier this week during a separate presentation to the United Nations about Sputnik V.
Moscow, a city of around 13 million people, has been the epicenter of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak. It reported 7,993 new cases on Saturday , up from 6,868 the day before and well above the daily tallies of around 700 seen in early September.
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 from vaccination.
Russia has developed two COVID-19 vaccines, Sputnik V which is backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund and another developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute, with final trials for the both 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 trials to test its safety and efficacy had been completed.
The Sputnik V vaccine is administered in two injections, with the second dose is expected to be given 21 days after the first.
Russia as a whole reported 28,782 new infections on Saturday which is its highest daily tally, pushing the national total to 2,431,731, the fourth-highest in the world.