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A medic of the regional hospital receives Russia's Sputnik-V vaccine shot against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Tver, Russia October 12, 2020

'Coronavirus vaccination tours' for foreigners: Russia rules out possibility

  • The comment came in response to foreign media reports that travel agencies in certain countries have already started to offer 'coronavirus vaccination tours' to Russia to their clients

Russia on Wednesday ruled out the possibility for commercial coronavirus vaccination proposals for citizens as well as foreigners arriving in the country, according to a report.

Russia on Wednesday ruled out the possibility for commercial coronavirus vaccination proposals for citizens as well as foreigners arriving in the country, according to a report.

Alexei Kuznetsov, an aide to the Russian health minister, told Russian news agency TASS that Russians will be vaccinated on a first-priority basis. The comment came in response to foreign media reports that travel agencies in certain countries have already started to offer "coronavirus vaccination tours" to Russia to their clients.

Alexei Kuznetsov, an aide to the Russian health minister, told Russian news agency TASS that Russians will be vaccinated on a first-priority basis. The comment came in response to foreign media reports that travel agencies in certain countries have already started to offer "coronavirus vaccination tours" to Russia to their clients.

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"This is nothing but ordinary fraud. COVID-19 vaccination on commercial basis is ruled out, especially for [foreign] tourists. The vaccination is already under way, and it is free of charge for citizens. Vaccination of Russians is our absolute priority," the official said.

"Any form of commercial vaccine supply can be discussed only after the domestic demand is satisfied," Kuznetsov added.

According to a Czech TV report, a local entrepreneur started offering tours to Russia for people willing to get vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. The tours were offered at the price of over 1,170 euro and higher, with an additional courier fee of about 170 euro.

On August 11, Russia became the first country to license a Covid-19 vaccine, calling it "Sputnik V" in homage to the world's first satellite, launched by the Soviet Union. On that day, the Russian president emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests. He added that one of his two daughters has received a dose of the vaccine and is feeling well, according to Associated Press reports.

But western experts have warned against its use until all internationally approved testing and regulatory steps have been taken. The vaccine is undergoing Phase 3 trials.

The vaccine produced an antibody response in all participants in early-stage trials, according to results published by The Lancet medical journal earlier that were hailed by Moscow as an answer to its critics.

The results of the two trials, conducted in June-July this year and involving 76 participants, showed 100% of participants developing antibodies to the new coronavirus and no serious side effects, The Lancet said.

However, a group of international scientists questioned results from the Lancet medical journal, saying some of the findings appeared improbable, reported Bloomberg.

The researchers flagged concerns over seemingly identical levels of antibodies in a number of study participants who were inoculated with the experimental vaccine. This and other patterns in the data present “several different points of concern," according to an open letter written by Temple University professor Enrico Bucci and signed by more than a dozen other scientists.

Russian scientists gave detailed answers to all the questions from Bucci's group and published them in The Lancet, according to an official close to RDIF.

Meanwhile, Russia has registered a new record single-day increase of 17,717 COVID-19 cases, up from 16,202 on Tuesday, taking the cumulative total to 1,581,693, the country's coronavirus response center said on Thursday.

The previous single-day record of 17,347 COVID-19 cases was reported on October 26.

However, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday said that Russia did not plan to impose blanket restrictions or a national lockdown to curb the surge in coronavirus cases.

Speaking at an investor forum, he said that Russia would impose targeted measures in response to the pandemic if needed.

With inputs from agencies

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