Russian health officials are warning their citizens to avoid drinking alcohol for two months after receiving Sputnik V, the country’s Covid-19 vaccine.
This news is bound to leave a bad taste in the mouths of one of the world’s heaviest drinking populations.
The warning came from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, who told TASS News agency that everyone will have to observe extra precautions during the 42 days it takes for Sputnik V to become effective.
“People will have to stay away from crowded places, wear face masks and refrain from drinking alcohol or taking immunosuppressant drugs,” she said.
Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer safety watchdog, told Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda, “Drinking alcohol puts a strain on the body. If you want to stay healthy and have a strong immune response, don’t drink alcohol.”
According to the World Health Organization, Russia is the fourth-largest consumer of alcohol per person in the world with the average Russian throwing back over 15 litres of pure alcohol each year, usually in the form of vodka or other strong spirits.
Russia’s efforts to vaccinate its population began in earnest over the weekend in Moscow. Health authorities estimate that 100,000 people have already been inoculated, according to the Moscow Times
“By the end of the week, all regions of Russia will join this campaign,” Golikova said.
Russian health officials say the Sputnik V vaccine is over 90% effective, but unconfirmed reports claim that medical workers who have been given the shot have come down with Covid-19.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly refused to take it.
Western experts have expressed scepticism at how quickly the vaccine was developed and Moscow has provided no data to back up its claims for Sputnik’s efficacy.
Russia has recorded nearly 2.5 million Covid-19 cases, with well over 40,000 deaths from the disease.