Putin Confirms He's Taken COVID Booster Shot, Followed by Experimental Nasal Vaccine

Russian President Vladimir Putin is encouraging his citizens to receive their vaccines by revealing he's gotten his booster.

Putin announced that he has received a booster shot against COVID-19, as well as an experimental nasal vaccine funded by Russia's medical institute. Sputnik V, the country's domestically developed vaccination, is currently being adapted into a nasal version and has yet to go through clinical studies. Russia's Health Ministry gave the go-ahead to early trials of the Gamaleya Center nasal vaccine, which is sprayed into both nostrils, among 500 volunteers.

"That was all—I didn't feel anything. Nothing," Putin said during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. "Today, after these two procedures, I already did some sport in the morning."

This news comes as the country's COVID-19 numbers are surging. Officials are reporting record-high numbers of new cases and deaths, while less than 40 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Russia has a population of nearly 146 million people. The country's coronavirus task force reported 33,558 new cases and an additional 1,240 deaths on Wednesday.

In order to combat this surge, a version of the Sputnik V vaccine for children ages 12 to 17 is expected to be approved. The booster shot of the vaccine that Putin received was described by the Associated Press as "in essence a smaller dose" and is currently being tested on more than 3,600 volunteers.

Data on the effectiveness of the Sputnik V booster shot is currently unknown. The task force has recorded over 9.4 million infections and more than 267,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below:

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Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that he received a COVID-19 booster shot recently. Putin gestures while speaking during a cabinet meeting via video conference in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on November 24. Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Putin was vaccinated with Sputnik V, Russia's domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine, in the spring.

In accordance with established scientific protocols, the nasal 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.

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."

Russians are currently offered four domestically developed vaccines, with Sputnik V and Sputnik Light dominating the market. Data on efficacy of two other ones, EpiVacCorona and CoviVac, is yet to be released; just like Sputnik V, these two shots have been given regulatory approval before completing late-stage trials necessary to establish their effectiveness in preventing disease.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova called the daily mortality numbers "dramatic," noting at the same time that contagions in the country have taken a downward trend.

Reports by Russia's statistical service, Rosstat, that tally coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively, reveal much higher mortality. They say 462,000 people with COVID-19 died between April 2020 and September of this year.

Russian officials have said the task force only includes deaths for which COVID-19 was the main cause, and uses data from medical facilities. Rosstat uses wider criteria for counting virus-related deaths and takes its numbers from civil registry offices where registering a death is finalized.

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Along with receiving a Sputnik V booster, Russia President Vladimir Putin also was administered an experimental nasal vaccine. A healthcare worker administers a dose of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine to a patient at a vaccination centre in the GUM State Department store in Moscow on October 21. Photo by Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images