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Putin gets COVID-19 vaccine away from the public eye

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By Euronews with AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting with government officials via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting with government officials via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia.   -   Copyright  Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
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Russian President Vladimir Putin received his COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday off camera, according to his spokesman.

Dmitry Peskov said Putin would receive the jab out of the public eye because "when it comes to getting vaccinated on camera, he has never supported that, he doesn't like that."

Later in the day, Peskov said the Russian president was feeling fine after receiving the jab.

Putin announced that he would get vaccinated at a government meeting the day before even though the Russian vaccination campaign has been going on for months.

It's uncertain if it will change the high vaccine hesitancy in Russia. Despite the vaccine being available to anyone over the age of 18, just a small percentage of the population has received the vaccine.

Only 6.3 million people, or 4.3% of Russia's 146-million population, have received at least one dose of a vaccine.

Polls from the independent Levada Centre showed high levels of vaccine hesitancy with just 30% of Russians saying they were "ready" to get a jab.

Peskov said that Putin was doing "a lot" for the vaccination campaign.

"The president ... dedicates a rather significant time in his working hours to events, discussions, meetings related to vaccination, production of vaccines and so on. So the president does a lot for propaganda of the vaccines," Peskov said.

The Kremlin spokesman refused to reveal which of the three vaccines authorised for use in Russia Putin will receive, saying only that all three are "absolutely good, reliable, effective."

One of the Russian vaccines, Sputnik V, has been approved in dozens of countries. A recent study in the British medical journal the Lancet showed that Sputnik V is 91% effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19

The jab is currently being considered by the World Health Organization and European Medicines Agency as well for approval.

Peskov said Tuesday that Sputnik V was “so sought-after" that Russia's production "can't cope with the demand from abroad.”

To boost production, the Russian Direct Investment Fund has signed agreements with manufacturers in a number of countries including India, Brazil, South Korea and most recently Italy. Putin said on Monday such agreements amounted to a total of 700 million vaccines a year.