Video has emerged of Vladimir Putin coughing during a meeting with Kremlin ministers a day after he denied having contracted Covid-19, before he was forced to pull out of a G20 conference on Afghanistan.
The Russian leader, 69, tried to play down the health fears and insisted he has high antibody immunity and blames a diary clash for missing today’s meeting.
Politician Valentinna Matviyenko, speaker of the Russian upper house, told him yesterday that colleagues were ‘worried’ about his ‘health’.
Vladimir Putin coughs during a virtual meeting on Monday despite downplaying fears he has Covid-19
‘He has not yet got re-vaccinated,’ admitted his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
‘He said himself, (he) retains very high… antibodies to coronavirus.’
Putin will ‘follow the recommendations of the doctors’, said the spokesman.
After Putin was seen coughing through Monday’s meeting, he was later challenged about his health by Matviyenko, speaker of the Russian upper house.
‘You were coughing at the meeting – we were all worried,’ she told him. ‘We’re worried about your health.’
He replied: ‘Valentina Ivanovna [Matviyenko], don’t worry, everything is fine.
‘Not only for Covid-19, but all other infections are tested almost daily. So everything is fine.’
The Russian leader, 69, tried to play down the health fears and insisted he has high antibody immunity and blames a diary clash for missing today’s meeting. Pictured on Tuesday at the Kremlin
He suggested he had a cold after exercising in cool air.
‘Just a walk in the cool air, nothing bad is going on,’ he said.
‘And I wish all my colleagues good health.’
Last month, Putin was forced to spend two weeks in self-isolation last month after some of his close aides tested positive for Covid-19.
He said the vaccine stopped him from contracting the virus even though he worked closely for an entire day with an aide who got infected.
Putin was earlier vaccinated with two doses of Russian anti-Covid drug Sputnik V, which this week was claimed to have been based on stolen secrets re-Britain’s AstraZeneca.
Russia has strongly denied its spies stole the blueprint for the UK’s vaccine.
The president appeared in good spirits during a meeting with member of the Russian State Duma today despite the health rumours
Putin used his annual televised phone-in this June to cast Russia’s four vaccines as highly effective and safe, while taking a swipe at shots that are widely used in the West.
‘As you can see, everything is in order, and thank God we don’t have such tragic situations after vaccinations like AstraZeneca or Pfizer,’ he said, adding that 23 million of Russia’s more than 144 million population had been vaccinated.
He continued: ‘I thought that I needed to be protected for as long as possible. So I chose to be vaccinated with Sputnik V. The military is getting vaccinated with Sputnik V, and after all I’m the commander-in-chief.
‘After the first shot, I didn’t feel anything at all. About four hours later, there was some tenderness where I had the shot.
‘I did the second at midday. At midnight, I measured my temperature. It was 37.2 (Celsius). I went to sleep, woke up and my temperature was 36.6. That was it.’
He added: ‘I don’t support mandatory vaccination, and I continue to hold this point of view.’
On Monday Russia’s daily coronavirus infections and deaths hovered near all-time highs amid sluggish vaccination rates and the Kremlin’s reluctance to toughen restrictions.
Earlier this year Putin confirmed he had received the Russia’s Sputnik V jab and said the military would also be getting vaccinated with the same jab
Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 29,409 new confirmed cases – the highest number this year and just slightly lower than the pandemic record reached in December.
After registering the highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic at 968 over the weekend, Russia reported 957 new deaths on Monday.
Russia already has Europe’s highest death toll in the pandemic – more than 217,000, according to a government task force.
The state statistics agency, which uses a different way of counting including when the virus wasn’t considered the main cause of death, has reported about 418,000 deaths of people with Covid.
A sharp rise in infections and deaths began last month with the government attributing it to a slow vaccination rate.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said on Friday that 47.8 million Russians, or almost 33 per cent of its nearly 146 million people, had received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, and 42.4 million, or about 29 per cent, were fully vaccinated.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov voiced concerns about the surge in infections and deaths and noted that hospitals in some regions are close to capacity.
‘The vaccination level we have is too low, impermissibly low,’ Mr Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.
‘That is why we have mortality numbers that are so high. We are using every opportunity to make a simple call on all citizens – go ahead and get the shot.’
While deploring Russia’s lagging pace of vaccinations, Mr Peskov rejected the idea of imposing fines on those who fail to get the vaccine and emphasised that it was up to regional authorities to decide whether to tighten local coronavirus restrictions.