Don’t Mix Sputnik Vaccine with Alcohol, Pleads Russian Official

MOSCOW (Reuters) —
A laboratory assistant holds a tube with Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine against the coronavirus disease in Budapest, Hungary, Nov. 19, 2020. (Matyas Borsos/Hungarian Foreign Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

A health official’s warning that anyone getting vaccinated against COVID-19 with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine should give up alcohol for almost two months has caused a backlash among some Russians who call the request unreasonable.

Anna Popova, head of the consumer health watchdog, told the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station on Tuesday that people should stop drinking alcohol at least two weeks before getting the first of two injections. They should continue to abstain for a further 42 days, she advised.

Sputnik V, licensed under an accelerated process before the end of clinical trials, has been given to doctors, soldiers, teachers and social workers in the first stage, with a large-scale nationwide rollout due to begin this week. There are 21 days between the two Russian vaccine jabs.

Russians are among the heaviest drinkers in the world, though consumption has fallen sharply since 2003.

Popova warned alcohol would reduce the body’s ability to build up immunity to COVID-19.

“It’s a strain on the body. If we want to be healthy and have a strong immune response, don’t drink alcohol,” she said.

Her advice was contradicted by Alexander Gintsburg, the vaccine’s developer.

“One glass of champagne won’t hurt anyone, not even your immune system,” said Gintsburg.

He said it would be prudent to reduce alcohol use by a reasonable amount while the body built up immunity, but said there was no need to give up completely.

It was crucial however, he said, to refrain from alcohol three days before and after the two required injections. He said such advice was the same for anyone getting vaccinated around the world and not specific to Russia or Sputnik.

The topic generated lively discussion on social media, with many pointedly disagreeing and vowing to hold customary Russian winter toasts.

Others said the contradictory advice and their own experience showed there was no need to follow Popova’s recommendations.

“I drank like there was no tomorrow between the first and second jabs,” said one Moscow resident, who didn’t want to be identified. “And I’ve got antibodies coming out of my ears.”

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