Russia Reports new COVID Death Record, ask Those Vaccinated From Virus to get Booster Shot

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin asked COVID-19 vaccinated Russian citizens to get booster shots as the country reported the highest daily death toll of the pandemic Thursday.

Moscow health authorities and health authorities in other Russian regions released boosters for the Sputnik V and Sputnik Light vaccines Thursday, available to people who've been infected with the virus or inoculated more than six months ago, the Associated Press reported.

"In view of the difficult epidemiological situation today, doctors recommend having booster shots six months after vaccination. I'm pleading with you not to miss a chance to get additional protection from the virus, which is particularly important amid the spread of a more aggressive Delta variant," Sobyanin wrote on his blog.

Russian coronavirus authorities have documented more than 20,000 new daily COVID-19 infections since last Thursday, more than two times the daily average in early June, the Associated Press reported. Thursday's death count of 672 was the country's highest of the entire pandemic.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Russia Outbreak
A group of people, some wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, stand in line to get a coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination point in Gorky Park in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Russia was among the first in the world to announce and deploy a coronavirus vaccine last year, but so far only about 23 million, just over 15% of the population have received at least one vaccine shot. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

Health Minister Mikhail Murashko told a government meeting Tuesday that the ministry has issued guidelines allowing those who contracted COVID-19 to get vaccinated six months after they recovered, and those who have been immunized to get booster shots six months after their first vaccination.

Health authorities said that the more contagious Delta variant of the virus has accounted for the bulk of recent new infections in Moscow and some other regions. The nation's chief sanitary doctor, Anna Popova, confirmed Tuesday that the authorities also registered the first contagion with the Delta Plus variant.

Russian officials have blamed the rise in cases on Russians' lax attitude toward taking precautions, the growing prevalence of more infectious variants and vaccine hesitancy. Although Russia was among the first countries to announce and deploy a coronavirus vaccine, just over 23 million people — or 15 percent of its 146 million population — have received at least one shot.

President Vladimir Putin revealed during a Wednesday call-in show that he had received the Sputnik V vaccine earlier this year and stressed the importance of getting vaccinated. The Russian leader, who had received the shots out of the public eye, had previously refused to identify the vaccine he got to avoid offering a competitive advantage to its maker. Sputnik V is the most widespread of the four domestically-designed vaccines in circulation.

Russia's vaccination rates have picked up in recent weeks, after authorities in many regions made shots mandatory for employees in certain sectors, such as government offices, retail, health care, education, restaurants and other services.

While reaffirming his position that vaccinations should be voluntary, Putin emphasized that mandatory vaccination for some workers was based on the law and voiced hope that it could help prevent a nationwide lockdown.

A spike in vaccination over the past days was quickly followed by reports of vaccine shortages in a number of Russian regions, and some experts have questioned whether Russia will have enough vaccines to go around.

Officials said earlier this week that 36.7 million sets of four domestically-developed coronavirus vaccines have been released into circulation in Russia, and 30 more million are expected to be produced in July.

As a new wave of contagion spread, authorities in some regions have started imposing travel restrictions.

From Thursday the southern Krasnodar region, which has a long stretch of the Black Sea coast, required incoming hotel and resort clients to produce a certificate of vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or a document showing they had been previously sick with the virus.

Starting Aug. 1, only those with proof of vaccination or a document showing recovery from COVID-19 will be allowed into hotels and resorts. The stringent rules have triggered a wave of tour cancellations that has shaken the nation's tourist industry.

Moscow Mayor
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin (C), accompanied by chief doctor of the Kommunarka infectious diseases hospital Denis Protsenko (L) and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, visits the hospital for Covid-19 patients in the Moscow's settlement of Kommunarka outside Moscow on June 18, 2021, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Alexander Astafyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images