President Vladimir Putin has announced that he is among the first people to have been given Russia’s new pioneering Covid-19 vaccine, administered through the nose without a needle, as part of his re-immunization.
Speaking at a meeting of government officials on Wednesday, Putin confirmed that he had received the nasal formula, alongside a booster shot.
“They asked me to breathe in deeply and count to three,” the Russian president said, adding that he didn’t feel anything during the process. “Six months after my vaccination, my antibody levels dropped and experts recommended a revaccination process,” Putin explained.
The nasal formula was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and is based on the country’s flagship Sputnik V vaccine. The institute’s head of microbiology, Denis Logunov, revealed that early research shows it could decrease the chances of infection, at a meeting with Putin on Sunday.
According to him, the use of the nasal version “is a convenient way to deliver a vaccine – it is painless, with an absolute minimum of side effects.”
Logunov went on to say that “after primary vaccination [by injection], you have systemic immunity, but after additional intranasal immunization, you create an additional immune barrier in the upper respiratory tract.”
Studies of the formula are expected to be conducted into 2022, he added.
Earlier on Wednesday, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that Putin was working as usual and feeling well after being revaccinated. “This is the head of state,” the Kremlin official said, “it is necessary to take special precautions to ensure the health and safety of the president, which experts are doing.”
Putin received the first of two doses of Sputnik V in a closed-door appointment with his doctor in March, and has since called on Russians to follow suit and sign up for the jab. According to him, “not a single serious case of complications” has occurred during the nationwide roll-out of the vaccine. “There is nothing to be afraid of here,” he insisted.
The country has since launched a revaccination program, designed to bolster levels of immunity amid a sharp rise in the number of infections and all-time record deaths in recent weeks. More than 1,000 people have died each day from the virus for more than a month, officials say, and fewer than 40% of all Russians are fully vaccinated.