Putin orders mass coronavirus vaccinations in Russia from next week

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting outside Moscow
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered officials on Wednesday to begin mass coronavirus inoculations next week and to open up the vaccination programme to all Russians.

Russia, which has the world's fourth highest number of COVID-19 cases, started large-scale vaccinations last month.

The RDIF sovereign wealth fund has said 1.5 million Russians have already been inoculated with the Sputnik V vaccine.

"I ask you to start mass vaccinations of the entire population as early as next week," Putin told officials at a government meeting by video link that was broadcast on state television.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said authorities would be ready to broaden the programme from Monday.

Russia has imposed no broad lockdown during the second wave of infections that began in September and officials have said that targeted restrictions are enough to curb the virus.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia reported 22,850 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours, pushing the national tally to almost 3.5 million since the pandemic began.

(Reporting by Anton Zverev and Andrey Ostroukh; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Jon Boyle and Timothy Heritage)