As a teacher at a large school in the suburban area of Moscow, Nina Zhukova should have been one of the first to receive the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine offered to priority workers throughout the capital of Russia.
Instead, after catching the virus and recovering in the fall, Zhukova is determined not to get vaccinated.
“I would not have been vaccinated even if I had not had Covid,” she told the Moscow Times.
“I just don’t really believe in Russian medicine. ”
Zhukova is not alone in her suspicions of a campaign against Russia’s coronavirus. Although Sputnik V, the world’s first coronavirus vaccine to receive regulatory approval, has shown an impressive 91.2% efficacy, widespread public confidence in the vaccine development process means that uptake remains low.
The Moscow Times is before recitation Moscow doctors are unwilling to receive a vaccine that many see as unconfirmed, with regulatory approval granted based on test results from voluntary organizations much less than is normal, and before Phase III tests have been completed. Views from clinics across the capital two weeks into the massive vaccination program show that other staff eligible for the injection are feeling the same way.
To date, the major Russian vaccine rollout that began on December 4 has targeted key workers in some government-designated areas, with initial access to the vaccine limited to pharmacists, social workers and teachers.
Although the vaccine is not yet far from the sixties, the range of eligible recipients has been gradually expanded to include additional cultural, manufacturing and sales workers. city workers, transport workers and journalists. Jabs has now started in all 85 regions of Russia.
However, the exact number of Russians vaccinated is unknown.
On December 10, Alexander Gintsberg, head of the Gamaleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V, reported on state television that more than 150,000 people had already been vaccinated across the country, the highest number in any country. any in the world.
But in Moscow – the first Russian city to embark on a massive vaccine push – the true picture remains unclear.
Five days into the capital’s vaccination campaign, Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin – who has said the city needs to take in between six and seven million residents over the months has been announced. next – that Sputnik V had over six thousand people.
With 70 specialist clinics across the capital administering the vaccine, Sobyanin ‘s words suggested that on average only 17 people per day received the vaccine at each clinic. That compares with 130,000 who were vaccinated in the first week of the campaign against coronavirus in the UK.
In a subsequent update on December 16 – eleven days into the vaccination program – Sobyanin told lawyers at Moscow City Council that a total of 12,000 Muscovites had been vaccinated, a figure that means a fall another citywide vaccination rate up to 1000 patients receiving Sputnik V per day, equivalent to as little as 14 per clinic.
The Ministry of Health has recently announced that foreign citizens living in Russia could receive the vaccine, possibly noting that it was lower than expected among Muscovites, who were ‘limited vaccine first.
At six Moscow coronavirus vaccination clinics visited by The Moscow Times on Wednesday, ranging from those serving suburbs outside the city to the affluent areas around the Kremlin, the situation was mixed.
Because recipients would need to pre-register for the online vaccine, cues for Sputnik V are very rare, with the majority of patients visiting the clinics for reasons other than the coronavirus.
Although some clinics have reported that the vaccine is in high demand as many Interior Ministry staff have begun, at several medical centers staff talked about problems finding enough patients to vaccinate. was willing to be vaccinated.
At one branch of City Polyclinic No. 3, which serves much of central Moscow across several different sites, staff reported that uptake of the vaccine was particularly low.
“Even on a good day, we can’t get more than ten people,” said an administrator who was monitoring the coronavirus vaccine at the clinic branch, who spoke under an anonymous condition.
Sputnik V – which is packaged in five-dose packs and must be kept frozen at 70 degrees Celsius – is usually given to groups of five patients at once, as not all five-dose packs are possible. disinfected only for an hour before use.
According to documents seen by the Moscow Times, on at least one day the clinic branch had only registered four patients who were willing to be vaccinated, meaning that the remaining fifth dose may have to be taken. throw away.
Above all, Sputnik V’s struggle at home demonstrates the true confidence of the Russian people in the health care system.
Abroad, more than fifty countries have so far requested to buy or export Sputnik V, while UK pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca is exploring the possibility of combining Russian vaccination with the his own.
However, in Russia itself reactions have been colder.
“Russian society is generally in disarray. People don’t have much faith in the news when it comes to the virus, ”said Alexei Levinson, director of the Socio-Cultural Research Division of the independent Levada Center pollster.
According to a Levada study in October, 59% of respondents would not receive a free coronavirus vaccine. An earlier poll in August showed that only 13% of those questioned showed confidence in Sputnik V.
A newer poll, conducted in December by the Public Opinion Fund, a government-linked pollster, has support for the vaccine increased, with 42% indicating that they are willing to have the injection, even as a majority of 52% of respondents are still willing to Sputnik V.
While Levinson believes that Russian suspicion towards the vaccine has deep roots, with many Russians preferring foreign drugs, the situation is exacerbated by the growth of anti-online vaccines. , which has become increasingly popular since the onset of the pandemic.
“There is no basis for vaccination in Russia,” said Irina Yermakova, a biologist whose videos spread unfounded claims that Sputnik V – and vaccines in general – are ineffective and potentially dangerous. seen hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube and Russia’s largest social network VKontakte.
“They are hiding information about the nature of the virus. Until we know more, I will not trust any vaccine, ”she said.
According to Alexandra Arkhipova, an anthropologist at the Presidential Academy of National Economics and Public Administration who studies the spread of conspiracy theories, rumors about the negative side effects of online coronavirus vaccination began on December 3 – the same day received a major Moscow vaccine the program was announced.
“The most popular thing of all, by taking the vaccine, is that you become ill yourself,” Arkhipova said.
Daniil Galaydov submitted a statement.