Russian lawmakers are seeking to recognize those vaccinated against the coronavirus with foreign jabs, the Izvestia daily reported Thursday.
The major changes would be added to a legislative package mandating digital Covid passes showing its holder’s vaccination status or recent recovery from the virus as the country battles its latest and deadliest wave of the pandemic yet.
“If herd immunity is important to us, we need to give [people with non-Russian vaccines] the opportunity to receive” the scannable QR code passes, Izvestia quoted Yaroslav Nilov, a member of the right-wing populist Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR), as saying.
The State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, is currently racing to mandate the QR code passes for access to public transport, restaurants and non-essential shops in hopes of combatting deeply entrenched vaccine hesitancy and slowing the virus’ spread.
The Duma is scheduled to consider the mandates at its Dec. 16 session, according to its legislative calendar.
The pending countrywide QR code requirements, which lawmakers were reported this week to have softened in order to avoid public discontent, are expected to come into effect from Feb. 1 and last until at least June 1, 2022. Some regional authorities have already mandated QR codes.
It is not yet clear whether LDPR’s proposal to recognize foreign vaccinations will pass in the Duma, though Izvestia reported that the ruling pro-Kremlin United Russia party is considering similar measures.
LDPR is also seeking to issue the scannable passes known as QR codes to those who have recovered from Covid-19 without being hospitalized or tested.
“We believe that people who were vaccinated with a foreign vaccine or had been unofficially ill but have immunity are no different from those who received a Russian vaccine or were officially ill,” Izvestia quoted Nilov as saying.
“Plus, we propose an amendment to give amnesty to everyone who received fake QR codes. They need to be given the opportunity to be vaccinated,” Nilov added.
The opportunity to be vaccinated with foreign jabs would be critical for Russians hoping to travel to the United States, which has banned entry to non-citizens who have not been vaccinated with an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine.
Russia has itself developed at least five Covid-19 vaccines, but its national vaccination drive has faced several setbacks.