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The Price of Pensioners: Why Russia Postponed Their Vaccination Against COVID-19

The vaccination against COVID-19, which was launched in different countries of the world, went different ways, clearly demonstrating who has what priorities. In many other countries, the first thing to do is vaccinate the elderly against coronavirus, but in our country “our hands have not yet reached”. Together with the experts, we figured out why this happened.
In the UK, the US and the EU, the elderly are primarily vaccinated for those most at risk of severe coronavirus infection. Even the deeply aged US President John Biden received his dose of the vaccine.

In Russia, doctors and teachers received the primary right to inject drugs. The vaccine is not yet available for the elderly. During a big press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the coronavirus vaccine had not yet reached his “age zone”. And, as his press secretary Dmitry Peskov said yesterday, Biden, who is 10 years older than Putin, cannot become “a motivator and an example for Putin.”

Experts call the path of mass vaccination chosen in Russia the first priority for rescuers. The logic is simple: if doctors are not protected, then who will help others to recover? Our country has lost many people in white coats to the pandemic, and there is hope that vaccination can stop this.

Other countries have chosen a different path. For example, according to the vaccination program approved by the British government, the first priority vaccination is given to patients of nursing homes and, in principle, all the elderly. Europeans and Americans followed the same path. “For this risk group, they made concessions there, taking into account the circumstances of the pandemic,” explained Alexander Kudryavtsev, a bioengineer and junior researcher at the IBCP RAS.

“Vector” began researching its vaccine on 1.5 thousand volunteers from the 65+ group, but they have not been completed yet. In general, in the study of many drugs, including those affecting the immune system, individual groups of the population are studied. The elderly and children, for example, have special characteristics, they have weakened immunity and need separate protocols. Some vaccines designed to develop innate immunity are used only in children and not in adults. “

According to Svetlana Zavidova, executive director of the Association of Clinical Research Organizations, any clinical research in the world is carried out from general to specific: “At the early stages, drugs are tested on healthy volunteers – it is important to make sure that the development is safe.

At later stages, when the effectiveness of the drug is being studied, large groups of the population are first taken, then “pinpoint adjustment” begins: pediatrics, the elderly, people with chronic diseases. However, if we look at the ongoing Phase III research on Sputnik V, we see that there are no limits for older age! That is, the study of the middle age, those very 40 thousand volunteers, also provides for groups of 60+.
In addition, for some reason, a separate permission was obtained to test the vaccine among 150 elderly people. And legally, nothing prevented the immediate start of vaccination among the older generation. Especially against the background of the fact that the order of inclusion in vaccination of various risk groups (doctors, journalists, social workers, etc.) is not regulated by any plans and state programs today. “

In the meantime, if you carefully study the instructions for using the Sputnik V vaccine, then in the list of the main contraindications to the administration of the drug, in addition to hypersensitivity to the components, a history of severe allergic reactions, pregnancy and the period of breastfeeding, is the age of up to 18 years and after 60 years. However, Svetlana Zavidova explains that the instructions were made after studies were conducted on 38 subjects, and the experts who approve it, apparently, did not want to risk it. I do not exclude that very soon the instructions will be amended accordingly,” the expert said.

Analyst Boris Ovchinnikov notes: despite the fact that our vaccine has not yet been tested in the group of elderly people, we have not taken any steps to purchase foreign drugs that have been studied in the older age group: “In the UK, the vaccine is needed to save lives, in Russia – to save the economy, to protect the labor force.

In Russian logic, the lives of pensioners are not important, or at least not a priority. In the meantime, if the elderly are vaccinated, this will give a significant reduction in mortality, but young police and doctors will not. In other countries, they are not ready to sacrifice their old people. Such a culture, says therapist Natalya P. – I, too, would instill first a mother and children, and only then myself.

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