On Monday, the Tourism Ministry announced that they were going to put off allowing tourists into the country who have been vaccinated with the Sputnik V Russian vaccine for the coronavirus. Originally, the announcement had said that visitors who had been inoculated with the Russian-developed vaccine would be allowed into the country from November 15th. However, they have now decided to postpone this to December 1st. In accordance with the original decision, those who have been vaccinated with Sputnik V would also be required to take a serological test for proving they have antibodies. From November 1st, Israel had begun to permit tourists to enter into the country.
But, this was only applicable for people who have been vaccinated with vaccines that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. These people do not have to take a serological test. Permitting tourists with the Russian shot to come to Israel was a change in policy for the country. Before this, they had been following the FDA guidelines very closely when it comes to usage of the coronavirus vaccine. Israel had only shifted away from US regulators on the decision of administering the booster shot to anyone above the age of 12.
Last month, after a meeting between the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the decision of allowing tourists from Russia had been taken. Russia had launched their vaccine back in August 2020 and had named it proudly after the first satellite in the world to symbolize the country’s scientific progress. Up until now, about 70 countries in the world have given the greenlight for the Sputnik V vaccine. However, the European Medicine Agency and the World Health Organization have not given the greenlight for the vaccine. As a matter of fact, some have even questioned the vaccine trials in Russia and their transparency.
Currently, Russia has been experience a new wave of infections that began halfway through September. A record high number of deaths are also being recorded in the country on a daily basis. The surge in deaths and infections comes because of the lax attitudes of the public when it comes to taking precautions, the low rates of vaccination and the reluctance of the Russian government to impose stricter restrictions. There are 146 million people in Russia and less than 40% have gotten fully vaccinated, even though the domestically developed coronavirus vaccine had been approved in the country months before the rest of the world.
The total death toll that has been reported by the Russian COVID-19 taskforce is around 254,000 deaths, which is the highest death toll in Europe. According to some experts, the actual figure is higher. It was disclosed by Russian officials that the number of deaths reported by the Russian task force are those that are directly caused by the coronavirus and it obtains its data from medical facilities. Rosstat, the statistical service in Russia, has reported different figures of around 462,000 people dying from COVID-19 since April 2020, as they get the data from the civil registry offices.