By Elena Teslova
MOSCOW (AA) - Russia on Monday started mass vaccination against the novel coronavirus throughout the country.
The Russians are being immunized with Sputnik V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
People of social professions, including teachers and doctors, as well as employees of public transport, and military personnel will get the vaccine first.
The vaccine's availability is currently limited because its production is being adjusted. However, when the process is launched in full capacity, all Russians will receive a free coronavirus vaccine, the authorities said.
Moscow was the first city to open the vaccination points on Saturday. But mass vaccination in most of the regions started on Dec. 7.
Commenting on the process on Monday, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said some issues, mostly related to logistics and online sign-in process for vaccination, are arising as the process picks up pace.
“We need to get this whole process rolling by working out the online registration and logistics issues,” he said.
With the beginning of the autumn-winter season, Russia experienced a massive growth in the virus's spread. The number of daily cases jumped almost six times -- from 5,000-plus in September to over 28,000 in December -- with the death toll going up dramatically.
The trend continues as over the past day the country's emergency task force registered 28,142 new cases, taking the active cases to 488,727 and the overall count to over 2.48 million. Over the same period, recoveries increased by 18,850 to reach 1.95 million, while the death toll rose by 456 to hit 43,597.
To slow down the spread, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered last week to start mass vaccination against COVID-19.
According to health experts, at least 40 million people need to be vaccinated throughout the country to contain the virus’s further growth.
Russia became the first country in the world to register a coronavirus vaccine for public use. Later named the Sputnik V, the vaccine was called Gam-COVID-Vac (Gamaleya COVID Vaccine) by developers.
Shortly after the Sputnik V's registration, authorities granted permission for mass use of another vaccine, developed by the Novosibirsk-based Vector Institute of Virology and Biotechnology.
Both vaccines are to be administered through two injections. They are currently authorized for people aged between 18 and 60, and can be combined with other antigens, including those used against the flu.
The cost of the two-component kit is 1,945 rubles (around $26).