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Moscow to give away free cars to spur people to get COVID vaccine

file photo: temporary hospital for covid 19 patients in the krylatskoye ice palace in moscow
FILE PHOTO: A medical worker takes care of a patient at a temporary hospital in the Krylatskoye Ice Palace, where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated, in Moscow. Denis Grishkin/Moscow News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Moscow’s mayor said on Sunday the city would give away free cars in a prize draw for residents who get the COVID-19 shot in an effort to speed up the sluggish rate of vaccinations amid surging coronavirus cases.

The Russian capital reported 7,704 new infections on Sunday, the most in a single day since Dec. 24. Authorities reported 14,723 cases nationwide, the largest one-day total since Feb. 13.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin told residents on Saturday to stay off work this coming week to help curb the spread of the virus, effectively declaring a long public holiday.

“This is only a temporary solution,” he said in a follow-up blog on Sunday. “To avoid new restrictions and secure a sustainable improvement of the situation, we need to significantly speed up vaccinations.”

Sobyanin has publicly lamented how few residents have chosen to get the vaccine. He gave no new figures on Sunday for how many have had the shot. He said on May 21 that 1.3 million out of a population of more than 12 million had received one dose.

To boost demand, Sobyanin said that anyone over 18 who receives the first of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine from June 14 until July 11 would now be automatically entered into a draw to win a car.

He said that five cars worth 1 million roubles ($13,900) each would be given away every week.

Russia was the first country in the world to approve a COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use, prior to the start of large-scale trials. It began rolling out the Sputnik V shot in December and it was rapidly opened up to everyone in Moscow.

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Reuters News Service