Russian officials have aroused anger after warning civilians not to drink nearly two months after receiving the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.
Anna Popova, head of the consumer health watchdog, claimed that drinking alcohol would reduce the body’s ability to build up immunity to Covid-19.
She said, “It puts a strain on the body. If we want to be healthy and have a strong immune response, don’t drink alcohol.”
The official said people should stop drinking for at least two weeks before having the first of two injections, and abstain for another 42 days.
But the Russians hit back at the “unreasonable” request, claiming it outweighed the benefits of the vaccine.
They are among the heaviest drinkers in the world, although drink consumption has fallen sharply since 2003.
Elena Kriven from Moscow said: “This really bothers me. It is unlikely that I will not be able to drink for 80 days.”
She said the “stress on the body of giving up alcohol, especially during a festive period” would be “worse” than the side effects and “purported benefits” of the vaccine.
Alexander Gintsburg, the developer of the vaccine, contradicted the official advice, saying, “A glass of champagne doesn’t hurt anyone, not even your immune system.”
He said it would be wise to reduce alcohol consumption by a reasonable amount while the body built up immunity.
There was no need to give up completely, he added.
But it was crucial to stay off it for three days before and after the required two injections.
He said such advice was the same for anyone vaccinated around the world and not specifically for Russia or Sputnik.
A resident of Moscow said, “I drank as if there was no tomorrow between the first and second shot.
“And I have antibodies coming out of my ears.”
Pavel Goriachkin wrote on Facebook: “It is absolutely impossible for most people in our country.”
The Sputnik V vaccine has been approved under an accelerated process before the end of clinical studies.
Doctors, soldiers, teachers and social workers got it initially, with a large-scale nationwide rollout starting this week.
There are 21 days between the two Russian vaccinations.