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San Marino turns to Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to kickstart immunizations

San Marino turns to Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to kickstart immunizations

* First inoculations expected as early as this week

* Doses will immunize under a quarter of state’s residents

MILAN, Feb 23 (Reuters) – San Marino on Tuesday received a first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines, government officials said, allowing the tiny state landlocked inside Italy to start its immunisation campaign.

First inoculations are expected to begin as soon as this week on a voluntary basis with priority given to health workers and people over the age of 75.

“We cannot rule out that some people will decide not to use the opportunity”, San Marino’s Health Minister Roberto Ciavatta told Reuters. “But we wanted to give them the option”.

The deal was on top of the accord the 24-square-mile (61.2 square kilometre) enclave managed to seal last month with Italy and the European Commission, granting it access to some of the shots the EU has secured for its member states.

But complex and lengthy bureaucratic procedures and widespread shortages of the shots delayed the process.

“We are still waiting for some authorisations from the pharmaceuticals companies involved to unblock the process,” Ciavatta said. “We are confident we will seen a breakthrough soon”. In the meantime, San Marino – which recorded around 3,400 coronavirus cases and some 70 COVID-19 related deaths – announced last week the agreement with Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which markets Sputnik V abroad.

The 15,000 doses of Sputnik V could immunize just under a quarter of San Marino’s 34,000 population, as the vaccine is administered to each person in two doses, with the booster shot given 21 days after the first.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but officials involved in the negotiations said San Marino had secured the shots for nearly 130,000 euros. (Editing by Giulia Segreti; editing by Grant McCool)

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