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Putin orders mass coronavirus vaccinations in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered officials on Wednesday, January 13, to begin mass coronavirus inoculations next week and to open up the vaccination program to all Russians.

Russia, which has the world's fourth highest number of COVID-19 cases, started large-scale vaccinations last month.

The RDIF sovereign wealth fund has said 1.5 million Russians have already been inoculated with the Sputnik V vaccine.

"I ask you to start mass vaccinations of the entire population as early as next week," Putin told officials at a government meeting by video link that was broadcast on state television.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said authorities would be ready to broaden the program from Monday, January 18.

Russia has imposed no broad lockdown during the second wave of infections that began in September and officials have said that targeted restrictions are enough to curb the virus.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia reported 22,850 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, pushing the national tally to almost 3.5 million since the pandemic began. – Rappler.com