Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that his close relatives and other people in his inner circle have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, as Russia races to cement itself as the first country with an effective method of wiping out the disease.
The vaccine, known as Sputnik V and developed by the Russian Health Ministry’s Gamaleya National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology, has already been given to one of Putin’s two daughters, it was announced in August as the Russian government registered it. The claim at the time sparked concern worldwide among scientists who pointed out that the product had not yet undergone large-scale testing.
“My close ones, my close relatives, people who are working around me got vaccinated. I’m speaking about dozens of people — approximately about 50,” Putin said, adding that “almost the entire command of the Russian Defense Ministry and other special services were inoculated.”
Supplies of Sputnik V have already been sold to many countries including India, Brazil and Mexico, The Washington Post reported earlier this week. An estimated 40,000 people have volunteered to trial the vaccine, which Putin says gave his daughter mild side effects.
This week the Kremlin said that Putin also plans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, as the leader offered President Trump his well-wishes, telling him: “I am confident that your vital energy, high spirits, and optimism will help you cope with the dangerous virus.”
More than 21,700 people have died of covid-19 in Russia, and the country has more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of the infection.