President Vladimir Putin will be vaccinated in private on Tuesday evening, the Kremlin said, as Russia looks to boost a vaccination campaign that is faltering despite having produced three home-grown jabs.
Putin announced a day earlier that he would be vaccinated on Tuesday, joining other world leaders who have received jabs including US President Joe Biden, Pope Francis, and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.
But unlike many others who were vaccinated in public — Biden was shown on TV being given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while Ukraine’s Volodomyr Zelensky even took off his shirt for the jab — Putin will do so behind closed doors.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the 68-year-old Russian leader, who has never been media-shy during his two decades in power, does not want to get a jab in front of the cameras.
“We will not show this, you will have to take our word for it,” Peskov told reporters.
“As for being vaccinated in front of the cameras, he does not like it.”
Peskov said the Kremlin chief would receive one of three Russian vaccines, declining to specify which one “on purpose”.
“All three Russian vaccines proved their effectiveness and reliability,” Peskov said.
Russia has developed three vaccines — Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac, though most of the attention has focused on Sputnik, named after the first satellite launched into space by the Soviet Union.
Russia’s vaccination campaign has been slower than in many countries but Peskov said Putin did not have to get vaccinated in public to encourage more Russians to get jabs.
“The president is doing a lot to promote vaccines as is,” Peskov said.
Only about four million of the country’s 144 million people have so far received two doses of a vaccine, while another two million have had the first dose.
Vaccine scepticism runs high in Russia, with a recent opinion poll showing less than a third willing to have a jab, and close to two-thirds saying they believe the coronavirus is a man-made biological weapon.
The country has been among the hardest hit by Covid-19, with more than 4.4 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 95,000 deaths.