Valerios Aslanidis, a Pontic Greek from the city of Anapa on the Black Sea, was the first Greek to receive “Sputnik V,” Russia’s brand-new coronavirus vaccine.
He spoke recently to the Greek press about his experience receiving the experimental vaccine and his life as a Pontic Greek living in Russia.
The head of the Greek community of Anapa and a former Olympic athlete in the sport of Judo, 67-year-old Aslanidis was not afraid of the vaccine’s potential side effects.
Instead, he pinned his hopes on a future that resembles pre-Covid times, in which people could go about their daily lives without masks and social distancing. As a matter of fact, since his vaccination, Aslanidis has stopped wearing any protective face covering in public.
Encouraged by a friend to get the new vaccine, Aslanidis traveled to Moscow, where he was tested for the coronavirus and for antibodies, which are present when someone had the virus in the past and recovered. His lungs and overall health were also examined.
These rigorous tests were only undertaken due to Aslandis’ age. Most of the over 12,000 people who chose to receive the vaccine have been under the age of 60. Since he is 67, Aslanidis needed to prove his fitness before receiving the controversial vaccine.
Those who receive the first dose must return 21 days later to receive the second dose. Aslanidis, who has been monitored by doctors since his first shot of Sputnik V, stated to the Greek press that he feels perfectly healthy, just as he was before going to Moscow for the vaccine.
The Sputnik 5 vaccine was viewed with skepticism around the world, since it was released extremely quickly and it is unclear if and to what extent safety trials were actually conducted.
Despite this, Aslanidis stated to Greek interviewers that Russian medicine is some of the most advanced in the world, and he has faith in the vaccine.
Aslanidis currently operates a vineyard called “Old Greek” outside of the city of Anapa, which is home to many Pontic Greeks. The area attracts many tourists from around Russia who are interested in the unique, ancient culture and Greek flair of the region.
A pillar in the community, Aslanidis is proud of his Greek heritage, which he can trace back to the year 1862.