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Erdogan unimpressed by Putin’s COVID-19 antibodies, Sputnik V vaccine booster offer

Published: Updated:

Vladimir Putin broke two weeks of self-isolation to meet Recep Tayyip Erdogan in person Wednesday, but the Turkish leader seemed unimpressed with the Russian president’s immunity to Covid-19, and his offer of a locally made booster shot.

“It’s very low,” was Erdogan’s response after Putin reported his antibody level (“around 15 or 16”), according to video broadcast on Russian state TV. Putin was describing the outbreak among dozens of his staff earlier this month that led him to shift from in-person meetings to videoconferences.

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“My antibody level, for example, is above 1,000,” Erdogan told him.

Putin brushed off the gap as a matter of different scales of measurement. “Specialists told me mine was high,” he said. “I spent a whole day with an infected person and didn’t get sick.”

“So, if you’re going to get re-vaccinated, do it with Sputnik V,” Putin said, referring to the Russian-made shot that he received earlier this year.

“I took BioNTech for that,” Erdogan demurred, referring to the shot produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE. Turkey approved Sputnik V for use in April, but has used very little as Russia hasn’t delivered enough doses of the second shot, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in August.

“Next time, then,” Putin said, before shaking Erdogan’s hand and sending him on his way.

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