MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin was vaccinated against the coronavirus on Tuesday, the Kremlin said, ending months of not being vaccinated, even as he advanced his domestic shots in his country.
The president’s injection was not shown on television, an exception to the usual coverage of Mr. Putin’s daily activities on state television.
His spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, said that Mr. Putin has promoted the vaccination in other ways and does not need to be shown in public.
“The president has, as you can see, devoted a significant part of his working time to events, discussions and meetings on vaccines, vaccine production, and so on,” he said. Peskov said. “The president is already doing a lot for vaccination.”
Mr. Peskov mentioned the shortage only in export markets for the most widely used Russian vaccine (Sputnik V), saying that demand abroad exceeds supply and that the vaccine therefore does not need to be promoted.
In addition to Sputnik V, Russia has approved two other indigenously developed vaccines – EpiVacCorona and CoviVac – for emergency use that have not yet completed their clinical trials. All three Russian vaccines require two doses.
Mr. Peskov did not want to specify which of the three Russian-made vaccines Mr. Putin did not receive.
According to Russian rules, Mr. Putin was eligible for a Sputnik V shot at the end of December; He is 68. But months passed without the Kremlin saying about his vaccination.
The Kremlin and analysts of Russian vaccine policy from outside have offered a variety of explanations about the presidential foothold.
At least Mr. Putin is not ashamed to appear in public without shirts, and he enjoys opportunities to show off his overall health with nude photos from Siberian fishing or horseback riding vacations.
He is also not known to be generally cunning about vaccines. He told Russian newspaper editors last month that he received flu shots annually, and then said he might be vaccinated against the coronavirus in the fall.
Asked if he should promote vaccination through his example, he said he did not want to make a monkey out of himself by appearing in public to receive a coronavirus vaccine, according to a report of the meeting.
Russia’s vaccination campaign has lagged far behind the United States and most European countries – the country has vaccinated 3.9 percent of the population with at least one dose, compared to 25 percent in the United States. Some attribute the difference to the huge reluctance of vaccines, something that could help overcome a presidential shot.
However, Russian reports in the news media pointed to signs of another cause: shortages and production bottlenecks that officials had only recently acknowledged.
Mr. Putin said during a video conference with vaccine manufacturers on Monday that Russia has produced 8.9 million two-dose kits of the Sputnik V vaccine since regulators approved it in August. But he said production would rise significantly to 17 million sets monthly from April. Last fall, officials predicted a faster implementation.
Promoting vaccination with a presidential shot before doses were widely available in Russia may have only highlighted the shortage of vaccines at home, even though Russia has exported the vaccines worldwide, a sensitive political issue.
Mr. Putin quoted his own vaccination plans on Monday, while also announcing that he should produce enough doses for most adults by August.