56 days of alcohol abstinence in order to be vaccinated in Russia

Health authorities recommend not to drink during New Year's Eve holidays

Sputnik V. The name of the Russian coronavirus vaccine already indicates that the Kremlin wants to make it a major actor in the global race to find a way out of the pandemic. In August it was the first vaccine to be authorised - by Moscow - for emergency use, even though it had only been tested on a few dozen people. The Kremlin began to vaccinate military personnel, health workers, and teachers (President Vladimir Putin himself received it, among other personalities) and on Saturday, before the United Kingdom did so, the vaccination of priority groups began. The haste of the process makes many Russians suspicious, but there is still another obstacle: those who want to be immunized with Sputnik cannot drink alcohol for almost two months.

According to Anna Popova, head of Russian health care, you have to stop drinking alcohol for at least 56 days: 14 days before and 42 days after receiving the first dose. The Russian vaccine is administered in two doses three weeks apart. "It is an effort for the body. If we want to be healthy and have a strong immune response, we can't drink alcohol," Popova, who heads the Federal Service for Surveillance of Consumer Rights and Human Welfare, the country's health authority, told the local press. They also recommend not smoking and not taking immunosuppressants.

Abstinence can be a problem, especially at this time of year, before the New Year's holiday, which runs from the 1st to the 10th of January. Vaccination, however, is free and voluntary. Although consumption levels have fallen since 2003, Russia remains one of the world's leading alcohol-drinking countries. After Popova's statement, Alexander Gintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Institute that developed the vaccine, said that although it is recommended not to drink alcohol before and after receiving the vaccine, "a single glass of champagne has never hurt anyone". 

Russia began vaccinating volunteers from the most vulnerable groups on Saturday, although Sputnik V has not passed the clinical safety tests. Its discoverers claim that their prototype, based on adenovirus, is 95% effective.

The Sputnik V vaccine - named after the first satellite that circled around the Earth's orbit - is based on the use of two different human adenoviral vectors, which allows for "a stronger and longer-term immune response compared to vaccines that use the same vector per dose". 

According to the health authorities, some 100,000 Russians have already received it, including participants in clinical trials and members of the military. Russia is the fourth country in the world with the highest number of covid-19 infections (over 2.5 million) and the tenth highest mortality rate, with over 44,000 deaths.

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