Dmitry Peskov was speaking to a special TV program about the second year of living with Covid-19, alongside other government officials. When asked his opinion about anti-vaxxers, Putin’s spokesman did not equivocate.
“Dangerous fools. That’s two words. Just one word cannot express it,” he told the TV host Nailya Asker-Zade.
The country’s Minister of Health, Mikhail Murashko, dubbed those who refuse to be vaccinated “unreasonable,” while Anna Popova, head of Russia’s health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, suggested that opponents of the jab are “stricken with fear.”
The program comes as Russia battles its latest wave of Covid-19 infections. Officials in Russia have tried for months to convince vulnerable citizens to get vaccinated against the virus, but the level of take-up has remained lower than in many other comparable countries. According to Murashko, just 62% of Russians older than 60 have received their first dose – still far behind the national goal of 80% fully vaccinated.
Asker-Zade also asked some medical professionals for their sentiments on the anti-vaxxer movement and received some stronger opinions. Andrei Shkoda, the chief doctor at Moscow’s City Clinical Hospital No. 67, described the phenomenon as “militant ignorance,” while the deputy chief physician at another Moscow medical facility, Sergey Tsarenko, called its believers simply “idiots.”
As things stand, five different vaccines against Covid-19 have been registered in Russia, including Sputnik V, the world’s first approved coronavirus jab.