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MOSCOW (Reuters) -Health clinics in Moscow will begin offering booster vaccine shots against COVID-19 on Thursday, the city’s mayor said, as Russian officials scramble to contain a surge blamed on the highly infectious Delta variant.
The health ministry on Wednesday recommended clinics begin administering booster doses to people vaccinated six months ago or more, making Russia one of the first countries to begin re-vaccination.
The ministry said it was an emergency measure as cases in Russia are rising sharply and vaccination rates remain low.
Russia reported 672 coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, its highest official death toll in a single day.
Moscow experienced a brief spike in demand for vaccines after authorities made vaccination compulsory for service sector workers in public-facing roles.
On Thursday, the capital ran out of two vaccines, the RBC magazine reported. These were EpiVacCorona and CoviVac, Russian shots that are not as widely used as the flagship Sputnik V.
Russia has inoculated just 16% of its population since January, accutane impotence in part due to widespread distrust.
The health ministry said it would be recommending booster doses for vaccinated people every six months until at least 60% of the adult population is vaccinated.
Authorities had planned to reach this target by autumn, but on Tuesday the Kremlin said it would not be met.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said re-vaccination was available with any of Russia’s four registered vaccines, but Sputnik V and the one-shot Sputnik-Light would initially be used at eight clinics across the city.
Scientists have said that protection from Sputnik V lasts much longer than six months.
However, scientists have recommended booster doses to keep the number of protective antibodies in the body at a high level considering the rapid spread of the Delta variant.
“We need to keep an eye on the strain, keeping antibody levels high through more frequent re-vaccination,” said Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Institute which developed the vaccine.
The government confirmed 23,543 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the most since Jan. 17, including 7,597 in Moscow. That pushed the national case total to 5,538,142 since the start of the outbreak.
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