Russian authorities are “studying” the implementation and effectiveness of fines for people refusing coronavirus vaccines in other countries, the head of the country’s consumer watchdog has said.
“We are studying the experience of different countries, let’s see how effective it is, how applicable it is,” the head of Rospotrebnadzor watchdog, Anna Popova, said in an interview aired by Rossiya 1 TV channel on Sunday.
When asked about a possibility of a new closure of the country’s borders, Popova replied that the decision primarily would depend on the assessment of epidemiological risks. Russia’s borders remained closed for several months last year in an attempt to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
Late in November, Moscow rejected any possibility that the refusal to take a coronavirus vaccine jab may become a fineable offense. Back then, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that such measures were out of the question, with no plans to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory on the table.
Such a stance was reiterated by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin earlier this month. While immunization of the population against coronavirus remained “the most important task” the authorities may face amid the pandemic, Moscow is still trying “to follow a path of persuasion rather than of compulsion,” Putin said.
“We are trying to combat biased views and prejudices against vaccination,” the president added.
The rapid spread of Omicron has already prompted fresh travel bans worldwide, with several nations reimposing full-scale lockdowns over it. First detected in South Africa, the new strain has already been observed in some 90 countries. The variant, which boasts a vast number of mutations and is believed to be well-adapted to interact with human cells, has been spreading “significantly faster than Delta in countries with documented community transmission,” the WHO said on Saturday. However, it is still unclear whether that is due to increased transmissibility or a better immune evasion ability by Omicron, the UN health watchdog noted.