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Russia to begin mass COVID-19 vaccinations next week

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Photo provided by Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) shows a researcher working pm a vaccine in a laboratory of the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow. Xinhua

MOSCOW (Xinhua) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday instructed the government to begin large-scale vaccinations against the coronavirus next week.

Medical workers and teachers, who are two high-risk groups, will be among the first to get shots, Putin said at an online meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova and other senior officials.

According to the president, the number of produced vaccine doses will reach two million in the coming days.

“I am sure that we will complete all the preparations this week,” Golikova reported to Putin, adding that the vaccination will be voluntary and free of charge.

Vaccinations for Russian troops have already started and about 80,000 soldiers will get injections by the end of the year, while more than 400,000 servicemen will receive vaccines, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said last week.

Russia has developed two COVID-19 vaccines, namely Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona. A third one being developed so far is scheduled to have its clinical trials completed by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised its guidelines regarding COVID-19 quarantine period, from 14 days to seven to 10 days, depending on one’s test results and symptoms.

If individuals do not develop symptoms, they only need quarantine for 10 days without testing; if they test negative, that period can be reduced to seven days, according to the guidelines updated on the CDC website Wednesday.

The revision marks a significant change from the CDC’s guidelines since the start of the pandemic, which recommended a 14-day quarantine after last exposure.

“Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to quarantine by reducing economic hardship if they cannot work during this time,” said the CDC.

“In addition, a shorter quarantine period can lessen stress on the public health system, especially when new infections are rapidly rising,” it noted.

The CDC requests people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 to quarantine, excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past three months.

The agency defines “close contact” as having been within six feet (about two metres) of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more; having provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19; having had direct physical contact with the person; having shared eating or drinking utensils; being affected when someone who has COVID-19 sneezed, coughed, or got respiratory droplets around.

The CDC requires people in quarantine to stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.

The new guidelines came as hospitalisations of COVID-19 patients in the United States reached an all-time high of over 100,000 on Wednesday.

Currently there are 100,226 COVID-19 hospitalised patients in the country, the first time hospitalisations have exceeded 100,000, according to the latest data of the COVID Tracking Project.

The United States has recorded more than 13.91 million cases with over 273,300 related deaths as of Wednesday night, according to the real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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