Russia lags behind others in its COVID-19 vaccination drive

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Russia boasted last year of being first in the world to authorize a coronavirus vaccine, but it now finds itself lagging in getting its population immunized.

That has cast doubt on whether authorities will reach their ambitious goal of vaccinating more than 30 million of country’s 146 million people by mid-June and nearly 69 million by August.

The vaccine reluctance comes as shots are readily available in the capital to anyone 18 or older at more than 200 state and private clinics, shopping malls, food courts, hospitals — even a theater.

As of mid-April, over 1 million of Moscow’s 12.7 million residents, or about 8%, have received at least one shot, even though the campaign began in December.

That percentage is similar for Russia as a whole. Through April 27, only 12.1 million people have gotten at least one shot and only 7.7 million, or 5%, have been fully vaccinated. That puts Russia far behind the U.S., where 43% have gotten at least one shot, and the European Union with nearly 27%.

Russia’s lagging vaccination rates hinge on several factors, including supply. Russian drug makers have been slow to ramp up mass production, and there were shortages in March in many regions.

So far, only 28 million two-dose sets of all three vaccines available in Russia have been produced, with Sputnik V accounting for most of them, and only 17.4 million have been released into circulation after undergoing quality control.

Photo: Russian people stand in line waiting to receive an injection of Russia’s Sputnik V Gam-COVID-Vac vaccine against the coronavirus COVID-19 at the vaccination point at the State Department Store GUM in Moscow, Russia. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV

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