Russia’s Putin Tests Experimental Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine

Russia's Putin Tests Experimental Intranasal Covid-19 Vaccine

Putin Tests Intranasal Vaccine

Russia is facing its worst surge of infections and deaths since the pandemic began and is struggling to overcome widespread vaccine hesitancy.


Putin was vaccinated with Sputnik V, Russia’s domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, in the spring.

On Sunday, he said he received a booster shot of Sputnik Light, the one-dose version of the jab, and said he wanted to take part in testing the nasal version of Sputnik V.

Denis Logunov, deputy head of Russia’s state-funded Gamaleya Center, told Putin on Sunday that the nasal vaccination is presently being tested “off-label largely” on center workers.

To ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective, it will need to go through numerous testing rounds involving and thousands of patients.

The Russian Health Ministry approved early trials of Sputnik V nasal spray on 500 volunteers last month, although it was unclear whether they had begun.

“Six months following immunization, my protective (antibody) titers fell, and doctors suggested revaccination, which I did.”

Putin didn’t experience any unpleasant effects after taking the COVID nasal vaccine.

In recent weeks, Russia has been swept by its highest ever COVID-19 surge, with officials regularly registering record-high numbers of new infections and deaths.

The surge came amid low vaccination rates and lax public attitudes toward taking precautions.

Fewer than 40% of Russia’s nearly 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though the country approved a domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine months before most of the world.

Efficacy data for two more vaccines, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac, are still pending; like Sputnik V, these two were approved by regulators before finishing late-stage studies required to prove their efficacy in preventing illness.

Russia’s Health Ministry is expected to approve a version of Sputnik V for teenagers aged 12 to 17 on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova told Putin during the government meeting.

According to Russia’s state registry of clinical trials, the jab, which is, in essence, a smaller dose of Sputnik V, was being tested on more than 3,600 volunteers.

No data on its efficacy has been released yet.

The COVID vaccination drive in Russia has been hampered by widespread vaccine hesitancy.

A poll released by the independent pollster Levada Center earlier this month showed that 45% of Russians weren’t willing to get domestically developed shots.

On Wednesday, doctors from 11 Russian hospitals released an open letter inviting anti-vaccination activists to visit coronavirus wards and critical care units with COVID-19 patients.

“Maybe after that, you’ll change your mind and fewer people will be dying,” the letter read.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 33,558 new infections on Wednesday and 1,240 deaths.

Golikova called the daily mortality numbers “dramatic,” noting at the same time that contagions in the country have taken a downward trend.

In total, the task force has reported over 9.4 million confirmed infections and more than 267,000 COVID-19 deaths, by far the highest death toll in Europe.

Some experts believe the true COVID-19 figure is even higher.

Reports by Russia’s statistical service, Rosstat, that tally coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively, reveal much higher mortality.

They say 462,000 people with COVID-19 died between April 2020 and September of this year.

Russian officials have said the task force only includes deaths for which COVID-19 was the main cause, and uses data from medical facilities.

Rosstat uses wider criteria for counting virus-related deaths and takes its numbers from civil registry offices were registering a death is finalized.

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