As Russian authorities are scrambling to contain a fresh surge in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, health clinics in Moscow will start offering booster doses for improved immunity against more virulent strains. The move to re-vaccinate the residents of Moscow follows new regulations issued on Wednesday by the health ministry which recommended clinics begin administering booster doses to people vaccinated six months ago or more.
Russia is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases blamed on the highly infectious Delta variant first detected in India. The strategy to administer booster doses to vaccinated individuals has made Russia one of the first countries globally to begin re-vaccination. According to the health ministry, the re-vaccination campaign is being used as an emergency measure to contain the worrying surge.
Russia has administered Covid-19 vaccines to just 16% of its population since the start of the vaccination drive in January this year. It has been struggling to get through the barrier of vaccine hesitancy to vaccinate its nationals and the emergence of new variants could test the immunity acquired by the vaccination.
The Russian health ministry has recommended administering booster doses to vaccinated people every six months until the country inoculates at least 60% of its population. This strategy may well turn out to be a case study for countries unsure about the longevity of the immunity induced by vaccines, especially when the Delta variant is swiftly becoming the dominant strain in many countries.
While the revaccination will be available with any of the four vaccines approved by Russia, Sputnik V and Sputnik-Light would be initially used at the health clinics in Moscow, said city Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
“We need to keep an eye on the strain, keeping antibody levels high through more frequent re-vaccination,” said Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Institute which developed the Sputnik V vaccine.
On Thursday, Russia reported 669 Covid-related deaths, the highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic. It has been reporting over 20,000 new Covid-19 cases every day since June 25, pushing the total cases to date to over 5.53 million.