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7 Nov, 2020 12:45

Coronavirus cases in Russia top 20,000 for second day as roll-out of Sputnik V vaccine set to begin

Coronavirus cases in Russia top 20,000 for second day as roll-out of Sputnik V vaccine set to begin

Russia has reported record high numbers of coronavirus cases for a second day in a row, as Moscow prepares to begin distribution of Sputnik V, the world’s first registered Covid-19 vaccine, to the general public.

More than 20,000 positive tests were recorded in the country on both Thursday and Friday, although it is likely that the true number of infections is far higher. The Kremlin has called the situation “tense but under control.”

All the while preparations are being made in the capital for the start of mass immunization with Sputnik V. The general public, not just those from at-risk groups, can begin receiving the jab within the next two weeks, Alexander Gintsburg, Head of the Gamaleya Research Centre, which developed the formula, told news agency TASS. He was optimistic about the roll-out, adding that “everything is going according to plan. By the end of November, we can count on having half a million doses. And in December - three times as many.”

Also on rt.com As Russia breaks record for daily Covid-19 cases, Moscow’s main specialist infections hospital has no empty beds for new patients

Russia made headlines when President Putin announced the country had registered the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine in August. It drew criticism from some international commenters for the speed of the decision. However, at the start of September, respected British medical journal The Lancet published a study prepared by the developers of Sputnik V, showing it to be 100 per cent effective, producing antibodies in all 76 participants of early-stage trials.

Moscow, which will receive the jab first, has been a hotspot for infections within the country, recording 5,829 new cases of the virus in the past 24 hours. On Friday, the capital’s main coronavirus treatment center had run out of space for patients, the Director of the facility, Denis Protsenko, told RT.

Despite increasing capacity from 800 beds to more than 2,000, the Kommunarka hospital is apparently struggling to deal with the demand.

A number of European nations have reintroduced tough measures aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, with the UK, France and Germany returning to national lockdowns in recent weeks. However, experts in Russia have argued that the country should avoid doing the same, despite the increase in cases. Alexander Gorelov of the Human Wellbeing Central Research Institute of Epidemiology told reporters on Friday that “the coronavirus situation remains under control and there is no need for more restrictions.”

A representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Russia said on Saturday that while it was difficult to predict how the coronavirus epidemic might unfold in the country, there is some cause for optimism. Talking to local media, Melita Vuinovich pointed to the scale of the testing programme as a critical part of the government response – more than 64 million tests have been conducted in Russia since the start of the health crisis. She added that “we are holding out hope for the vaccine, and for other treatments.”

Since the start of the pandemic in March, more than 1.75 million people in Russia have been diagnosed with the virus and more than 30,000 have died.

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