Staunton, March 22 – Vladimir Putin told a high-level government meeting on the pandemic that 4.3 million Russians have already received both required shots of the vaccine and that he will get his first shot tomorrow (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/03/22/putin-bolee-chem-43-mln-rossiian-sdelali-privivku-ot-koronavirusa). The latter statement provoked much negative comment online (regnum.ru/news/3222082.html).
In other comments to the meeting, the Kremlin leader thanked all those who have taken part in the fight against the pandemic and the development of the Sputnik-5 vaccine (regnum.ru/news/3221992.html). He said delivering it to the population remains his highest priority (regnum.ru/news/3221948.html).
Putin also said that Russia has never politicized the issue of the vaccine but that he is angry the Europeans have made the negative comments about Sputnik-5 that they have as they have rejected any need for the Russian vaccine (regnum.ru/news/3221910.html, regnum.ru/news/3221901.html and kp.ru/daily/27254/4385763/).
Today, Moscow officials reported that they have registered 9284 new cases of infection and 361 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, as the pandemic continued to ebb and flow throughout the Russian Federation, with declines now outnumbering increases (t.me/COVID2019_official/2643 and regnum.ru/news/society/3221657.html).
On the vaccine front, more regions reported that they had no supplies of the vaccine or were running low, prompting the health ministry to promise to deliver some 30 million doses to the regions in the next two months (ura.news/news/1052476968
Mauritius became the 55th country to approve the use of Sputnik-5 for its citizens (sputnikvaccine.com/rus/newsroom/pressreleases/mavrikiy-stal-55-y-stranoy-odobrivshey-vaktsinu-sputnik-v/
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wears a mask on which is written “FCKNG QRNTN,” provoking a firestorm of comments on Facebook (regnum.ru/news/3222055.html).
· Duma moves to approve expedited visa approvals to take advantage of expected post-pandemic surge in travel. If finally approved, those who apply will only need to have an online hotel booking and the visa will be valid for a six-month stay (sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/1048811-7).
· Moscow officials say a US pharmaceutical company has violated the Russian patent on Sputnik-5 (rbc.ru/society/22/03/2021/60589bd09a794774cfc246e2).