Despite initially refusing to say which of two domestic coronavirus vaccines he received in March, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that he was given two doses of the country’s pioneering Sputnik V formula.
Speaking as part of his traditional annual televised ‘Direct Line’ question-and-answer session with the public, Putin said he had made a decision about which jab to take based on what his colleagues were choosing.
“I made a decision for myself to be vaccinated with Sputnik V,” he explained, “especially since our armed forces are being vaccinated with Sputnik V, and I am the supreme commander-in-chief.”
“After the first injection, I didn’t feel anything at all,” Putin added, saying only that “after about four hours, a slight sensitivity appeared at the injection site” and he’d had a slight temperature overnight.
The president went on to stress that the other domestically developed formulas being made available to Russians through the country’s national immunization program were also effective and worked well. However, he said, Sputnik V appeared to protect against the virus for a longer duration. The leader said he also believed Sputnik V had fewer side-effects than some foreign-made alternatives.
“Now more than 20 million – 23 million – … have already been vaccinated [in Russia],” he said. “As you can see, everything is fine with us. Thank God, we haven’t had such tragic situations after vaccination, as [have occasionally been seen] following the use of AstraZeneca or Pfizer elsewhere.”
Putin was first immunized in a closed-door appointment on March 23, with cameras and reporters not invited to witness the moment.
At the time, the Kremlin refused to comment on which of the available jabs he had received. The president explained that this had been to avoid any unnecessary excitement at the time, but that he felt now was the time to reveal which formula he had been administered.
The phone-in session with the public comes as Russia announces a second day of record Covid-19 deaths. The country is currently grappling with a sharp increase in cases, which have been attributed to the new and more infectious Delta variant.
Russia’s low level of vaccine uptake compared to some other developed nations has been cited as a reason for the increase in infections.
Measures have been put in place in Moscow and a number of other regions requiring workers across a range of industries to be vaccinated. A QR code system has been introduced for those wishing to enter hospitality venues.
They are required to demonstrate proof of vaccination or recent infection, or, if they have not been vaccinated or diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past six months, are required to supply a negative PCR test result from the past three days, so as not to be barred from entering.