Anton Zverev, Polina Ivanova
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Journalists from two large Russian state-owned media companies were among the first to receive the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine outside of clinical trials, according to a statement from one of the companies and the words of four employees.
Russia started vaccination of people at risk in September, while continuing large-scale trials of a new vaccine. So far, about 400 people have been vaccinated outside of the trials, the Ministry of Health said this week.
The authorities have previously identified a list of people at risk. These are doctors, teachers, and also journalists.
While around a hundred vaccines against COVID-19 are at various stages of testing around the world, Russia has become the first country to have already allowed vaccination of the population.
Two journalists from the state news agency RIA Novosti and two employees of the VGTRK television holding, which operates the Russia-1 and Russia-24 television channels, told Reuters they were offered a voluntary coronavirus vaccine.
One of the journalists of RIA Novosti said that he felt that most of his colleagues refused the vaccine. One of the VGTRK journalists also said that many of his colleagues did not get vaccinated.
RIA Novosti confirmed that it is conducting a vaccination program.
“We have provided the opportunity to vaccinate Sputnik V for employees who constantly work in the office (not remotely), at events and in the field,” RIA Novosti said in a commentary.
The agency did not say how many employees received the vaccine.
VGTRK did not respond to a request for comment. Both companies employ hundreds of people.
All Russian regions have already received a small amount of vaccines for distribution among risk groups, the Ministry of Health reported. The Khabarovsk Territory, for example, received 42 doses of vaccine for doctors working with patients with coronavirus, Russian agencies reported.
RIA and VGTRK reporters told Reuters that before being vaccinated, they underwent a small medical examination and passed tests for coronavirus.
At the time of registration, Sputnik V was officially tested on approximately 100 volunteers as part of the early stages of testing. During the final stages, which began in September, 40,000 volunteers are to receive the vaccine.
(With the participation of Daria Korsunskaya. Editor Dmitry Antonov)