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Russia’s Ex-PM Medvedev Backs Mandatory Vaccination

The European Court of Human Rights ruled last month that compulsory vaccination can be “necessary in a democratic society.” Peter Kovalev / TASS

Russia’s former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has expressed support for compulsory vaccinations Wednesday as the country grapples with slower-than-hoped-for coronavirus vaccine uptake.

Medvedev, who was demoted to deputy chief of Russia’s Security Council in a major cabinet reshuffle last year, described mandating vaccinations as a tradeoff between individual choice and protecting the population from disease.

“Vaccination itself presupposes a person’s consent. ... But sometimes these decisions can be binding in the public interest and the interest of protecting the vast majority of the population,” he said.

“The relationship between voluntary and mandatory can be changed in favor of mandatory, though this is a question of proportionality of values: On the one hand, the value of individual life and on the other, the value of protecting the entire population,” Medvedev added.

Nearly 14 million Russians, or almost 10% of the population, have received at least one dose of one of Russia’s three approved Covid-19 jabs, according to a comprehensive analysis by the RBC news website. Slightly more than 9 million (over 6% of the population) have received both doses as Russia grapples with entrenched vaccine skepticism that impedes the domestic vaccination campaign.

Russia is on track to vaccinate 70% of its population to reach herd immunity by October 2022 at its current pace.

Medvedev, speaking at a St. Petersburg legal online forum, also called on countries to recognize each others’ vaccines to make global travel easier.

His comments came a month after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that compulsory vaccination can be “necessary in a democratic society.” Euronews reported that the ruling, which concerned events that took place long before the current pandemic, could set a legal precedent in the current debate on whether Covid-19 vaccination should be made compulsory.

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