Staunton, May 6 – In his most extended public discussion of the pandemic in months, Vladimir Putin said Russia’s Sputnik-5 vaccine is as “reliable as the Kalashnikov,” questioned international bodies which have rated vaccines produced by other countries as better, and defended his decision to extend the May holidays to fight the coronavirus (kremlin.ru/events/president/news/65534).
The Kremlin leader also said he was ready to support the lifting of patent restrictions on vaccines so that they could be more widely used internationally, complained that the pace of vaccination and testing in many Russian regions has declined, announced the registration of the one-dose Sputnik-Lite vaccine, and again insisted flight restrictions weren’t political.
As Putin was making these declarations at a meeting together with Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, the Russian government announced that it had registered 7639 new cases of infection and 351 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours (t.me/COVID2019_official/2898).
The authorities also said that 9.4 million Russians have now had both the shots they need and that 13.4 million have had the first one (regnum.ru/news/3262432.html) as the pandemic continued to ebb and flow across the Russian Federation (regnum.ru/news/society/3258922.html).
Golikova acknowledged that Moscow and St. Petersburg have recently experienced a new surge in infections but said that this was expected. She added that the situation in the northern capital had again stabilized but at an unacceptably “high plateau.” Officials there are calling on people to wear masks during the upcoming holiday (echo.msk.ru/news/2834000-echo.html).