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Leading Russian doctors have invited celebrities and politicians with anti-vaccine views to visit Covid-19 red zones in hospitals and see for themselves the dramatic effects of the pandemic.

In an open letter published by state news agency TASS, 11 doctors from several cities wrote to a dozen public figures who expressed anti-vaccine views to their hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

Russia, one of the countries worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is struggling with widespread opposition to vaccination even though it has developed several homegrown jabs including Sputnik V.

Despite multiple pleas from President Vladimir Putin, only 37 per cent of Russians are fully vaccinated and the country has seen more than 1,000 deaths a day in recent weeks.

In their letter, the doctors told several singers, actors, TV personalities and politicians who had expressed scepticism over vaccinations that they would take the time to show them around Covid-19 treatment centres.

“We are all somewhat busy, you can probably guess with what,” said the letter, whose signatories included prominent Moscow doctor Denis Protsenko, who is in charge of the capital’s main Covid hospital.

“But given how many people read and listen to you, we will find time to escort you through the red zones, intensive care units and pathology departments of our hospitals,” the doctors said.

“Maybe after that, you will change your position and fewer people will die,” it added.

Meanwhile, Russia’s public health watchdog said its officials have been reporting anti-vaccine activists in Russian regions to law enforcement agencies, reports Nataliya Vasilyeva.

Russian newspaper Izvestia earlier on Wednesday reported that the health officials had informed prosecutors of 37 vocal anti-vaccine activists who could be facing up to three years in prison on charges of spreading information harmful to public health.