Russian officials are warning citizens to avoid alcohol for two months after receiving the country’s COVID-19 vaccine — tough-to-swallow news for one of the world’s heaviest drinking countries.
The warning came from Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, who said in an interview that Russians will have to observe extra precautions during the 42 days it takes for the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to become effective.
“[Russians] will have to refrain from visiting crowded places, wear face masks, use sanitizers, minimize contacts and refrain from drinking alcohol or taking immunosuppressant drugs,” Golikova told TASS News Agency.
Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer safety watchdog, echoed the sentiments in an interview with Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda, as reported in the Moscow Times.
“It’s a strain on the body. If we want to stay healthy and have a strong immune response, don’t drink alcohol,” she said.
According to the World Health Organization, Russia is the fourth largest consumer of alcohol per person in the world. The average Russian consumes 15.1 litres of alcohol a year, according to the agency.
Russia’s efforts to vaccinate its population began in earnest over the weekend in Moscow. Health authorities in the country estimate that 100,000 people have already been inoculated.
“By the end of the week, all regions of the country will join this campaign,” Golikova said.
Russian health officials say the Sputnik V vaccine is over 90-percent effective, but reports say that medical workers who have taken the shot have come down with COVID-19. Russian President Valdimir Putin has reportedly refused to take it.
Western experts have expressed skepticism at the speed at which the purported vaccine was developed and Russia hasn’t provided any data to back up their claims for the shot.
There have been 2.4 million coronavirus cases recorded in Russia, as well as over 42,000 deaths from the disease.