In Russia’s push to promote its coronavirus vaccine, Putin is his own worst enemy.
After early skepticism over Russia dodging standard vaccine trials, an article published in the respected Lancet medical journal agrees that Sputnik V, announced by Vladimir Putin as the world’s first registered COVID-19 vaccine back in August, is similarly as effective as its Western counterparts. For a nation with roughly 500 pandemic deaths a day, this is good news. But the Kremlin’s mangled credibility has gotten in the way: almost half of the Russian population is reluctant to take the government at its word.
Given the months he spent boasting about the vaccine success, Putin is desperate to quash that hesitation by making the vaccine as easily accessible as possible. Moscow has ordered a mass vaccination program—setting up vaccine sites at hipster markets, shopping centers, and cafes, and even giving out free ice cream to the freshly inoculated.