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Russian health ministry rules out commercial coronavirus vaccination for foreigners

Russian coronavirus vaccine. © Mikhail Djaparidze/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MOSCOW, Oct 28, 2020, TASS. A senior Russian health ministry official on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of offering paid vaccination against the novel coronavirus, including to foreign tourirsts, TASS reported.

Alexei Kuznetsov, an aide to the Russian health minister, told 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.

“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, the Sputnik V vaccine developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology was registered by Russia’s Health Ministry and became the world’s first registered vaccine against COVID-19. Post-registration trials began in Moscow on September 7. First doses of the vaccine were administered on September 9. Overall, the program involves some 40,000 people, including 10,000 people who received placebo instead of the vaccine.

More than 50 countries in CIS, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Latin America have applied for Sputnik V. RDIF announced earlier supply agreements with Mexico for 32 mln doses, with Brazil for up to 50 mln doses, India – 100 mln doses, as well as Uzbekistan for up to 35 mln doses and Nepal – 25 mln doses.

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