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Russia set to launch first doses of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine

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A visitor wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus looks at her smartphone as she walks in the GUM State Department store in Moscow
A visitor wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus looks at her smartphone as she walks in the GUM State Department store in Moscow   -   Copyright  Credit: AP photos
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Russia will rollout the first doses of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on Saturday.

Three new vaccination centres have opened at hospitals in the Moscow region as the country gears up to begin immunisation.

Doctors, teachers and social workers will be first in line to get the shots.

With trials still underway, the vaccine is currently only being offered to those under 60 and without any chronic diseases.

President Vladimir Putin announced the rollout hours after Britain became the first country in the world to authorise the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine.

Sputnik V has been touted in Russia as the world's "first registered COVID-19 vaccine" after it received regulatory approval in early August.

However, the go-ahead drew considerable criticism from experts, because at the time they had only been tested on several dozen people.

Coronavirus infections in Russia hit a new record on Thursday, as the country's authorities reported 28,145 new confirmed cases -- the highest daily spike in the pandemic and an increase of 2,800 cases from those registered the previous day.

Russia's total number of COVID-19 cases - nearly 2.4 million - remains the world's fourth-highest. The government coronavirus task force has reported 41,607 deaths in the pandemic.

The country has been swept by a rapid resurgence of the outbreak this fall, with numbers of confirmed COVID-19 infections and deaths regularly hitting new highs and significantly exceeding those reported in the spring.