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Get Sputnik jab, Putin tells Erdoğan

A nurse takes out vials of the Sputnik V vaccine against the Covid-19 at the Boris Trajkovski sports hall in Skopje as the country start its vaccination campaign, after months of difficulties on April 16, 2021. Moscow announced on April 14, 2021 the start of production of its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Serbia, the first European country outside Russia and Belarus to manufacture the vaccine. Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

President Vladimir Putin told Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday he should use Russia’s Sputnik for his next booster jab and boasted of high antibody levels as he hosted the Turkish leader for talks, Agence France-Presse reported.

In a warm exchange after three hours of talks at Putin’s residence in the resort city of Sochi, Putin said he had recently spent an entire day with an infected aide but had not contracted the coronavirus.

“I have high levels of antibodies, thank God I got lucky,” Putin told Erdoğan in his palm tree-lined residence.

“So next time you get vaccinated again (use) Sputnik,” Putin said in remarks broadcast on state television.

Erdoğan said he had already had a Pfizer booster jab and had an antibody level of 1,100.

“Next time then,” Putin replied.

Erdoğan said nothing and just laughed.

Earlier this month the 68-year-old Kremlin chief spent two weeks in self-isolation after dozens of cases were detected in his inner circle.

On Wednesday, Russia recorded 857 new coronavirus fatalities, its highest coronavirus death toll for a second day running, as infections rise driven by the Delta variant and slow vaccination rates.

The new figure brought the country’s total deaths from Covid-19 to 206,388 — the highest in Europe.

Authorities have been accused of downplaying the severity of the outbreak.

Several Russian vaccines including Sputnik have been available for months, but authorities have struggled to inoculate a vaccine-sceptic population.

As of Wednesday, just under 30 percent of the Russian population had been fully vaccinated, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid data from the regions.

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