MOSCOW (AFP) - President Vladimir Putin said Thursday (March 4) that Russia had vaccinated more than two million people with its two-dose Sputnik V vaccine, while another two million had received their first dose.
His comments came as the European Union began reviewing the Russian vaccine, moving closer to approving the jab in what would be a geopolitical win for Moscow as it vies to increase its global clout. But the figures Mr Putin revealed in a conversation with volunteers indicated that Russia had a long way to go to convince its 146 million population to get inoculated against Covid-19, nearly three months into its mass vaccination campaign.
"Over two million people have received two components of the vaccine to date," the Russian President said in televised remarks. Another "two million and change" had received the first dose, he added. The totals indicate that only about 1.3 per cent of Russia's population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
This week, the independent Levada Centre pollster published a survey showing that coronavirus vaccine scepticism is on the rise in Russia, with 62 per cent of respondents saying they are not planning on getting inoculated with Sputnik.
Levada said in December that 38 per cent of respondents had said they planned on getting the vaccine.
Mr Putin once again claimed that Russia had developed the world's best vaccines against the coronavirus, saying they were better than the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs. The 68-year-old Russian leader has not himself received a coronavirus vaccine however.
In addition to Sputnik V, Russia's home-made jabs include EpiVacCorona - which is already in circulation - and CoviVac, which Russia plans to introduce this month.
Last month, medical journal The Lancet published data which found Sputnik V to be 91.6 per cent effective. Russia has said initial clinical trials showed EpiVacCorona to be 100 per cent effective, while CoviVac is to finish final clinical trials this month.