MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russia will fail to vaccinate 60 per cent of its population against Covid-19 by the autumn as planned due to sluggish demand for the shots, the Kremlin said on Tuesday (June 29), after the country recorded its highest number of daily deaths from the virus.
The Russian authorities have blamed a recent surge in Covid-19 cases on the infectious Delta variant, which they say accounts for around 90 per cent of all new cases, and on the reluctance of many Russians to get vaccinated.
Low uptake, despite free and widely available vaccines, has forced the authorities in some regions to introduce compulsory vaccination for some workers and to create incentives for others such as the chance to win a car or an apartment.
"We see that the number of people wanting to get vaccinated has increased this week," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
"But before that there was low uptake even if all the conditions were in place (to get vaccinated). It's clear that this vaccination target cannot be achieved. Targets will be pushed back."
Mr Peskov's comments came after Dozhd, an independent television station, reported that Russia was dropping its goal to get 60 per cent of the population vaccinated by the autumn.
The government's coronavirus task force said on Tuesday that 652 people had died as a result of the virus in the past 24 hours, a record daily high.
Russia has recorded some 5.5 million infections since the start of the pandemic.