By Kostas Onisenko
Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, adopted a stance regarding Russia’s coronavirus vaccine.
Specifically, Metropolitan Hilarion, as reported by the Russian media, advised the faithful to be vaccinated as soon as possible against the COVID-19. He was obviously referring to the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, which has been registered on August 11 as the first vaccine against COVID-19 worldwide.
However, serious reservations have been expressed by the international medical community as to whether the vaccine may have side effects or its effectiveness in general as clinical trials have not been completed.
Particularly striking is the fact that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has refused, as it became known on September 4, to be vaccinated with the vaccine before all clinical trials are completed.
“If they ask me if I should be vaccinated or wait, I say it is better to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Because the risk that the vaccine will have some side effects is minimal. (…) It is known what side effects the vaccine has: fever rises, maybe overnight, they feel weakness, drowsiness. But all this cannot be compared with the suffering of those who were affected by the coronavirus,” said the Metropolitan in an interview with a Russian channel.
Apart from the fact that the issues of effectiveness or not of a vaccine clearly can not be evaluated by a church official, the intervention of the Metropolitan seems to be in support of the official line of Moscow, which wants the rapid spread of the new vaccine.
According to Russian officials, negotiations are underway with about 50 countries for the sale of the new vaccine while Russia’s innovation in such a vital issue for humankind could boost its image internationally. Today, despite the fact that the vaccine is administered in Moscow, very few people have decided to be vaccinated.