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Russia must speed up Covid-19 vaccinations, Putin says

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Addressing newly elected lawmakers in the State Duma – the lower house of Russia’s parliament – Putin urged MPs who had gathered in the Kremlin to convince the Russian public to get vaccinated as the situation continues to escalate worsen in the vast country.

“You know that the number of infections is increasing in many regions and that medical specialists are working under difficult conditions. We are all well aware that vaccination can save us from the virus and from a severe course of the disease. It is necessary to step up the pace of vaccination, ”Putin said.

“I would like to ask you to be more active in this work, to educate people and to speak in the media. People trust and listen to your advice and recommendations. It is very important to do this without a tone of administrative reprimand. We should work with perseverance and patience with people and explain to them the benefits of preventing this dangerous disease, ”Putin added.

Russia has fallen behind much of the world in vaccinating its population, despite being the first country in the world to approve a vaccine against the coronavirus, Sputnik V, for use in August 2020.

Putin’s directive came on the same day that Russia recorded 973 deaths in the past 24 hours – the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the country since the start of the pandemic.

Russia has recorded more than 900 deaths a day for seven consecutive days. In total, Russia has officially registered 218,345 coronavirus deaths according to the country’s Coronavirus Task Force – the highest death toll in Europe.

The actual death toll could be even higher because of how Russia classifies coronavirus deaths. Rosstat, the Russian statistics agency, records coronavirus-related deaths where the virus was not the sole or leading cause of death, but the Russian Coronavirus Task Force is not including those in the official tally deaths.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who is in charge of the country’s response to the coronavirus, told a televised government meeting on Friday that 47.8 million Russians had received their first injection and only 42.4 million had been fully vaccinated in a country of about 146 million people. .

A recent poll by independent pollster Levada-Center found that 52% of Russians are not ready to be vaccinated against the coronavirus with vaccines made in Russia. Russia has yet to approve any foreign-made coronavirus vaccine, and only Russian vaccines are available nationwide.

The reluctance to be vaccinated reflects a broader distrust of the establishment, Alexandra Arkhipova, a social anthropologist and researcher at RANEPA University in Moscow, previously told CNN.

Russians tend to trust doctors they know personally rather than public medical institutions, she also said.

Thirty-eight Russian regions have introduced mandatory vaccine requirements for certain citizens and workers in public positions, Anna Popova, head of Russia’s public health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said on Tuesday.

The Kremlin has expressed frustration with the country’s low vaccination rates. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that “the pandemic is not going away, it is coming back in new waves … the only thing that saves lives is the jab.”

Peskov stressed that the government used every opportunity to call on the Russians to be vaccinated, even urging the media to “repeat this a hundred times a day”.

Russian state media have become increasingly critical of people reluctant or undecided about getting vaccinated. Earlier this month, Dmitry Kiselyov, a leading Russian presenter on state television, told viewers that despite recent figures for deaths and infection rates, “citizens, for the most part, do not do not care about themselves or others “.

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Cnn