Moscow plans vaccinations as Russia's Covid-19 cases hit record amid doctor shortage

A medic receives the "Sputnik-V" vaccine shot against the coronavirus disease in Tver, Russia, on Oct 12, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - The authorities in Moscow were preparing for mass vaccinations against Covid-19 and Russia's daily tally of infections rose past 18,000 to a record high amid a shortage of doctors across the country, the Kremlin said on Friday (Oct 30).

Moscow residents who want to be vaccinated against Covid-19 may be able to do so as early as next month if large volumes of doses are supplied by then, Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova said on Friday.

The capital was creating a large network of specialised vaccination rooms, with 2,500 high-risk people - primarily doctors and teachers - having already been vaccinated, Russian news agencies reported, she said.

Around 9,000 Moscow residents have received both shots of the Sputnik V vaccine as part of an ongoing large-scale trial, its developer was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying on Thursday. The vaccine is taken in two doses, with a 21-day gap.

Mass vaccination of the public is not yet possible as the necessary number of doses of the vaccine have not yet been delivered, Ms Rakova said on Friday, speaking on the Russia 24 TV channel, adding she thought that this could happen next month.

Russia is facing challenges in scaling up production of its vaccine, with President Vladimir Putin on Thursday citing issues with the availability of equipment.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov praised the heroism of medical professionals working in what he described as extreme conditions, but he acknowledged the shortage of doctors everywhere.

The authorities were under fire across Russia, with taxi drivers in the Urals city of Ekaterinburg staging a protest and threatening strike action over being forced to install acrylic safety screens in their vehicles, local news website reported.

In Siberia, the Transbaikal regional health ministry said it was investigating after a 64-year-old woman died shortly after she had complained about a lack of medical attention.

"If I die, only the health ministry is to blame for such a negligent attitude," Ms Olga Sorokina had said in a video shared by website

In the capital, new coronavirus cases stood at 5,268 on Friday, below the record high reached in May, but one of the sharpest rises since lockdowns were eased earlier this year.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Thursday said he was very hopeful that strict restrictions, such as those in force in the likes of France and Germany, would not be introduced in the capital.

Russia has seen new coronavirus cases swell in recent weeks.

The authorities reported 18,283 new infections on Friday, the highest tally recorded since the pandemic began, and 355 deaths.

Russia's Covid-19 death toll stood at 27,656. It has reported 1,599,976 infections, the world's fourth largest number after the United States, India and Brazil.

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