COVID-19 | The alcohol abstinence needed to get vaccinated is not funny in Russia

Russians are happy that their country is, just before the United Kingdom, the first to vaccinate the population against the new coronavirus. But there is a detail that does not make them so funny: for Sputnik V to be effective, you cannot drink alcohol for almost two months.

And this, on the eve of the Christmas holidays – traditionally lavishly washed down with champagne and vodka – has fallen like a jug of ice water on the minds of candidates to be vaccinated.

“[El alcohol] not before, not after, not during. Simply, never and in no case, “said Anna Popova, Russian health chief, on alcohol consumption for those interested in getting vaccinated. The announcement has been received as a shock by many Russians, even more so when Popova has also recommended to the population does not leave home at the end of the year so as not to spread the coronavirus.

Two months of abstinence

First the authorities spoke of 42 days of abstinence, that is, three weeks between each dose of Sputnik-V and another three weeks after the second injection. But Popova this week increased that term to 56 days, arguing that it takes, “at least” two weeks to prepare the body for the impact of the vaccine.

The measure is in line with the healthy habits promoted for years by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a great sports fan who hardly consumes alcohol in public.

The news coincided with the start last Saturday of the vaccination campaign against covid-19 in Moscow and on the eve of the beginning of the “large-scale” inoculation of Sputnik V throughout the country ordered by Putin, which will begin at the end this week, initially between health workers and teachers.

And, in addition, it clashes with the traditional belief of a majority of Russians, according to surveys, that the consumption of alcohol, in general, and vodka, in particular, strengthens the immune system. The authorities of various regions They have already tried in vain to introduce a dry law in full confinement at the beginning of the pandemic in April due to the increase in alcoholic ingestion.

Fury in social networks: A vaccine for children and the elderly

Although vaccination is voluntary and free for Russians, social networks burned, first with 42 days and then with a month and a half of forced abstinence.

“Jesus Christ only fasted for 40 days and here are 42,” commented one of the many users who spoke on the networks.

Some consider it impossible to comply with the health recommendation, and wonder if the only segments of the population that will receive the vaccine are children and the elderly, who drink the least.

“In short, half the country is not suitable for vaccination,” said another Internet user. Some found signs of “Russophobia” in the fact that this measure was announced just before the Christmas holidays, when alcohol consumption soars in Russian homes, and others doubted that the vaccine is safe and voluntary for employees. public or military.

“That they show on the First Channel how they vaccinate those of the Duma, the Senate, the Presidential Administration and Vladimir Putin himself,” they proposed.

The Russians, especially the Muscovites, did not take the spring lockdown at all, so the new measure has already exhausted the patience of many in the face of an imminent closure, as in the case of the country’s second city, Saint Petersburg. where infections have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

A glass of champagne does not hurt, the vodka or touch it

The reality is that not all specialists coincide with the government’s severity, including Alexandr Guintsburg, director of the Gamaleya Center, which develops the Sputnik-V vaccine. “You should not get drunk in any case, including during the vaccination process, since alcohol negatively influences not only the behavior of the person, but also the functioning of the immune system, but a glass of champagne does not harm anyone “he commented.

The same does not happen with the national drink. “But a glass of vodka will be (…) just 1%” of alcohol in the body that has a “very negative” effect on the effectiveness of the vaccine, he said. For this reason, he recommended not to drink alcohol three days after each injection of the vaccine, of which two doses are necessary.

Virology professor Alexandr Chepurnov stressed that the recommendation not to drink alcohol is common in the case of vaccination. “You should not abuse alcohol. But drinking champagne is even good, since good humor is no less important for immunity than giving up harmful substances,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which has put a 43% reduction in the consumption of beverages such as vodka in Russia between 2003 and 2016, also believes that alcohol consumption is counterproductive in the face of COVID-19.