Vaccine skeptics aren?t simply expressing their opinions, but have a clear strategy to eradicate the population, a Russian official has said, as the rate of inoculation against Covid remains low in the world's largest country.
Speaking as part of a seminar on Monday, Sergey Novikov, Head of the Russian Presidential Administration's Directorate of Public Projects, said that "today, anti-vaxxers are throwing around the idea that the use of vaccines needs to be justified, but meanwhile a thousand people keep dying every day."
According to Novikov, views that fly in the face of mainstream science are not manifestations of democracy and free speech. Instead, he insisted that such rhetoric is "a strategy aimed at destroying the people and we need to be aware of that."
Novikov added that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had urged his commanders in the occupied territories of the USSR to deprive people of vaccines and hygiene products, supplying them instead with alcohol and tobacco. "It was his economic strategy to decimate the population of the Soviet Union," he said.
The official's comments come amid several weeks of record daily deaths from Covid-19. Although Moscow registered the world's first coronavirus jab well over a year ago, and made shots freely accessible, the nation's immunisation campaign has been hindered by vaccine skepticism and hesitancy.
Last week, Sergey Netesov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a professor at Novosibirsk State University said that less than 40% of citizens are fully vaccinated, while around 45% have had their first shot - one of the lowest tallies worldwide.
Parliamentarians from the country's governing party, United Russia, have received guidance on how to debunk anti-vaxxer myths ranging from theories that the pandemic is being used to control people to suggestions that vaccines have not been studied properly.
Russia has confirmed over 282,000 coronavirus deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic. The country's excess fatality count, however, is at least 810,000.