Russia registers new Covid vaccine as cases hit record high

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President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia has registered its second coronavirus vaccine, while the country reported a record number of new infections.

“The Novosibirsk Vektor centre today registered the second Russian vaccine against coronavirus—EpiVacCorona,” Putin said during a video conference with cabinet members.

Vektor, a top-secret laboratory in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, conducted biological weapons research in the Soviet era and stockpiles viruses ranging from Ebola to smallpox.

Putin’s announcement came after he said in August that the country had registered its first coronavirus vaccine called Sputnik V, which is yet to complete its final stage of testing.

The new vaccine triggers an immune response using synthetic virus proteins, while Sputnik V uses adapted adenovirus strains, a virus that causes the common cold.

Deputy prime minister Tatiana Golikova said during the conference with Putin that the vaccine showed a “fairly high level of safety”.

It will now move onto post-registration trials involving some 40,000 volunteers, she added.

Russian officials in recent weeks have recorded a sharp rise in infections and a government tally on Wednesday registered a new record increase in infections, with 14,231 new cases.

Golikova described the virus situation in the country as “controlled” and said no further measures were needed.

On Tuesday deputy health minister Oleg Gridnev raised concerns that 90 percent of Russia’s hospital beds set aside to treat coronavirus patients were already occupied.

In Moscow—the worst-hit city by far—residents over the age of 65 have been asked to stay at home.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin last week urged all Muscovites to limit their movements until a vaccine is available for mass distribution.

At the start of the pandemic, Russia imposed sweeping restrictions which were lifted ahead of a vote in June on constitutional amendments which could see Putin stay in power until 2036.

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