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Russia lags behind others in COVID-19 vaccination drive

Russia lags behind others in COVID-19 vaccination drive

Moscow: While at the Park House shopping mall in northern Moscow, Vladimir Makarov saw it was offering the Coronavirus vaccine to customers, so he asked how long it would take.

It turned out it's simple here 10 minutes, he said of his experience last month.

But Makarov, like many Muscovites, still decided to put off getting the Sputnik V shot.

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 per cent, 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 per cent, have been fully vaccinated. That puts Russia far behind the US, where 43 per cent have gotten at least one shot, and the European Union with nearly 27per cent. Data analyst Alexander Dragan, who tracks vaccinations across Russia, said last week the country was giving shots to 200,000-205,000 people a day. In order to hit the mid-June target, it needs to be nearly double that.

We need to start vaccinating 370,000 people a day, like, beginning tomorrow, Dragan told The Associated Press.

To boost demand, Moscow officials began offering coupons worth 1,000 rubles (USD 13) to those over 60 who get vaccinated not a small sum for those receiving monthly pensions of about 20,000 rubles (USD 260).

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