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World News

Putin says Trump's 'inherent vitality' will see him through COVID-19

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin wished Donald Trump a swift recovery on Friday after the U.S. president tested positive for COVID-19.

FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are seen during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci/File Photo

“I am certain that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with this dangerous virus,” Putin wrote to Trump in a telegram, pledging his support during “this difficult time”, according to the Kremlin.

Russia’s ties with the United States remain strained over many issues, from arms control to the conflict in Syria, as well as allegations of Russian interference in U.S. politics, something Moscow denies.

On social media, many Russians wished Trump well but others responded with derisive comments, or with jokes. Some took the opportunity to highlight Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“Let’s treat him with the Russian vaccine and medication,” wrote Alex Korolyov on the social media platform VK. “Then he will be our Trump.”

With hundreds of potential vaccines in various stages of development around the world, Russia was the first country to license its vaccine for public use and alongside China has been deploying the shots before full efficacy trials are complete.

Sergei Vlasov, another VK user, wrote that Trump should be airlifted to Russia for treatment.

“We need to urgently bring Trump to Moscow. We don’t trust American medicine, his life there is at risk,” Vlasov wrote.

One Twitter user said Trump should be flown to the same Siberian hospital where doctors treated Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in August.

Navalny was poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent, according to German, French and Swedish laboratories. Moscow denies this and says it has yet to see evidence of poisoning.

Alexander Gintsburg, head of the institute that produced Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, told RIA news agency he expected the United States to take proper care of its president but said other U.S. officials should consider getting the Russian jab.

“It would have been good to vaccinate him,” Gintsburg said of Trump.

Additional reporting by Alexander Marrow, Gleb Stolyarov and Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Frances Kerry

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