Kremlin blames Russians over slow jab drive as deaths rise

Moscow (AFP) – The Kremlin conceded Friday its coronavirus vaccination drive was struggling and blamed Russians for not getting inoculated as deaths and cases hit new records.


Russia has the highest official virus death toll in Europe and on Friday added 1,064 fatalities and 37,141 new infections.

"We're in a worse situation than a whole series of European countries when it comes to vaccinations," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"With the sudden rise of more aggressive variants, more people are falling ill. That's the reality," he said.

Officials have warned that the worst is yet to come, with only 35 percent of the population fully vaccinated.

"The problem is the awareness of citizens," said Peskov, who recently admitted he was among Russians not to have been vaccinated, claiming to have high levels of antibodies after contracting the disease last May.

Authorities have repeatedly urged Russians to get vaccinated with one of several homemade jabs that have been available free for months.

Peskov's comments come a day after President Vladimir Putin praised Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, saying people from European countries were flocking to Russia to get the jab instead of vaccines recognised by the European Medicines Agency.

"People from European countries come here, get Sputnik and then go back home and buy a Pfizer vaccine certificate," he said.

Putin this week ordered a nationwide week-long paid holiday starting October 30 to curb infections and Moscow next week will shut non-essential services for 11 days.

The fatalities on Friday brought Russia's official death toll from the disease to 228,453.

But figures published by statistics agency Rosstat in October paint a far darker picture, suggesting more than 400,000 people have died from the coronavirus.