Putin opens up Russia to ‘vaccine tourism’ with foreign visitors paying for jab as he lashes out at countries that refuse to buy Sputnik for ‘political reasons’
- Putin praised ‘vaccine tourism’ at St Petersburg annual economic conference
- He also claimed that some countries deviated from Sputnik V for political reasons
- ‘I know that [foreign] the demand is quite high,” the 68-year-old told the forum
- Officials have been told to prepare to welcome vaccine tourists from July
Vladimir Putin has told officials to prepare to open Russia to “vaccine tourism,” where foreigners can pay for the Sputnik V shot.
The president, who says the vaccine is as reliable as a Kalashnikov rifle, also claimed that some countries are avoiding the injections made in Russia for “political reasons.”
Speaking at the annual economic conference in St. Petersburg, Putin said: “Considering the efficiency of our vaccines, I know that [foreign] the demand is quite high.’
“The domestic pharmaceutical industry is poised to further ramp up vaccine production,” the 68-year-old added.
Kirill Dmitriyev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) that funds the vaccine, said at the forum that Russia could be open to “vaccine tourism” from July.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the International Economic Forum, known as the Russian Davos, in St. Petersburg on Friday on
Russia has approved four domestic vaccines, with Sputnik V being the most widely used. Administered in two doses, spaced 21 days apart between each injection, it was the world’s first Covid vaccine in August 2020.
Named after the world’s first satellite launched by the USSR in 1957, Sputnik was touted by Putin as “the best” jab in the world, while the leading independent medical journal The Lancet deemed it effective in a study published in February.
The Kremlin said Putin had been privately vaccinated, but it is not known which of the three main shots in Russia he used.
Putin also took the opportunity on Friday to encourage all Russians to come forward to receive their free vaccines.
“Every adult citizen of Russia has the opportunity to get vaccinated completely free of charge,” Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, often referred to as Russia’s Davos.
“I would like to ask our citizens to take this opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
A Venezuelan man gets the Russian Sputnik V shot in Caracas on Thursday
The 68-year-old leader said Russian authorities had not recorded a single fatality related to the coronavirus vaccine.
He repeated that he had been vaccinated himself and that the injections have few side effects.
“I know that firsthand,” Putin said.
Putin said Russia’s main vaccine, Sputnik V, had already been registered in 66 countries with a combined population of more than three billion people.