Islam News – As Russia struggles to contain a harrowing new wave of coronavirus infections, President Vladimir Putin struck a changed tone and urged Russians to get vaccinated.
“It’s dangerous, dangerous to your life,” Putin said of the virus during his annual televised call-in show on Wednesday. He spent the first half-hour trying to convince people to get one of Russia’s four domestically produced shots.
Russia’s biggest cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, have been reporting more than 100 deaths per day recently, setting records. There has been a dramatic turnaround in the way top officials address the pandemic: For months, they did not do much to push the vaccine-wary public to get immunized. But for some groups, they are now making the vaccine mandatory. (Putin said he does not support that, passing the buck to regional officials.)
Only 23 million Russians, or about 15 percent of the population, have received at least one vaccine dose. Independent polls this year showed that some 60 percent of Russians did not want to be vaccinated.
Analysts say that the widespread distrust of the authorities could have contributed, as well as the steady drumbeat of state TV reports that either downplayed the virus or claimed Russia had defeated it.