Vladimir Putin is scheduled to receive his first dose of a Russian-made coronavirus vaccine later on Tuesday, after months of delaying his jab, in an apparent effort to boost Russia’s fledgling vaccination drive.
A Kremlin spokesman on Tuesday said that Putin would receive one of the three Russian-made vaccines but would release few other details of the vaccination, saying that journalists would have to “trust his word” that he had been inoculated.
“The president has already done a lot to popularise the vaccine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “As to being vaccinated on camera, well, he has never been a fan of that, he doesn’t like that.”
It was a peculiar description of a president who has regularly undressed on camera during summer holidays in Siberia, a baptismal dip in an ice-cold pool in January, and even at medical checkups in the past.
And the Kremlin decision to shroud Putin’s vaccination in secrecy is even odder considering the likely boost that Putin’s on-camera endorsement would give Russia’s vaccination drive.
As of this week, only 4.3% of Russians have received at least one dose of the country’s vaccine, predominately Sputnik V, which began mass distribution in December. In the United Kingdom, more than half the adult population has received at least one does of vaccine, and in the United States, 14% of the population have been fully vaccinated. Even in Germany, where the vaccine rollout has been viewed as a debacle, around 9% of the population has had at least one jab.