The low vaccine acceptance is of increasing concern as Russia suffers a sharp rise in case. On Friday, the national coronavirus task force reported a record 1,064 deaths and more than 37,000 new infections over the past 24 hours, another pandemic high.

When Russia last year became the first country to launch a coronavirus vaccine, called Sputnik V, it was hailed as a matter of national pride and a sign of its scientific know-how. But since the free immunization program began in December 2020, only about a third of the country’s 146 million people have gotten fully vaccinated.

The low vaccine acceptance is of increasing concern as Russia suffers a sharp rise in cases, setting records for infections and deaths nearly every day this month. On Friday, the national coronavirus task force reported 1,064 deaths and more than 37,000 new infections over the past 24 hours, another pandemic high.

“I can’t understand what’s going on,” President Vladimir Putin said, a rare admission of bewilderment from the steely leader. “We have a reliable and efficient vaccine. The vaccine really reduces the risks of illness, grave complications and death.”

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