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Putin Takes Nasal Spray After Booster

Russia deals with surging COVID-19 cases and vaccine hesitancy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 24, 2021 5:55 PM CST
Putin Says He Doubled Up on Vaccines
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a video conference Wednesday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.   (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he has taken an experimental nasal vaccine against the coronavirus, three days after he received his booster shot. Russia is facing its worst surge of infections and deaths since the pandemic began and is struggling to overcome widespread vaccine hesitancy, the AP reports. Putin was vaccinated with Sputnik V, Russia's domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, in the spring. On Sunday, he said that he received a booster shot of Sputnik Light, the one-dose version of the jab, and that he wanted to take part in testing the nasal version of Sputnik V.

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Denis Logunov of Russia's state-funded Gamaleya Center, which developed Sputnik V, told Putin on Sunday the nasal vaccine has yet to go through clinical studies and is currently being tested "off-label mostly"—on the center's staff members. In accordance with established scientific protocols, the vaccine will need to go through several trial phases, including those involving thousands of people, to establish that it is safe and effective to use. Last month, Russia's Health Ministry gave a regulatory go-ahead to early trials of the nasal form of Sputnik V among 500 volunteers, but it was not immediately clear whether it has already started.

Putin told a government meeting Wednesday that "exactly six months after vaccination, my titers of protective (antibodies) have dropped, and specialists recommended the procedure of revaccination, which I did." He said he didn't experience any unpleasant effects after taking the nasal vaccine. Doctors from 11 Russian hospitals released an open letter Wednesday inviting those skeptical of vaccines—and a number of prominent public figures in particular who have aired their skepticism in public—to visit hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. "Maybe after that you'll change your mind and fewer people will be dying," the letter read.

(Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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