Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed that the health ministries of the Group of 20 (G20) countries promptly address the issue of mutual recognition of national COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
Putin made the proposal in a video message to the G20 on October 30 in which he also complained about the lack of international recognition for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, urging the G20 summit in Rome to discuss the mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccination certificates "as soon as possible."
Putin said that, despite the decisions of the G20, “not all countries in need can have access to anti-COVID vaccines."
He said that happens “mainly because of dishonest competition, protectionism, and because some states, especially those of the G20, are not ready for mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccination certificates."
Putin’s comments were broadcast on Russian state television after G20 leaders agreed to step up global inoculation efforts.
Earlier this month, South Africa refused to approve the Russian vaccine despite the country's need for vaccines. Sputnik V also lacks regulatory approval in the European Union and the United States.
Chinese President Xi Jinping -- who, like Putin did not attend the summit but participated by videolink -- made a similar call for the mutual recognition of vaccines, according to Chinese state media.
In Russia, where new cases are spiking despite the availability of Sputnik V, Putin has ordered a weeklong paid holiday in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
Authorities have blamed a spike in infections in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe in large part on a slow vaccination rate.
With only 32.5 percent of the population fully vaccinated, Russia on October 30 reported its highest single-day case tally -- 40,251 -- over the previous 24 hours. The government's coronavirus task force also reported 1,160 deaths related to the virus, three short of the daily record of 1,163 set the day before.
Russia will go into a nationwide workplace shutdown in the first week of November, while Moscow reimposed a partial lockdown on October 28. Only essential shops like pharmacies and supermarkets remain open in the Russian capital.
Russia’s health minister said on October 30 that Sputnik Light will be used only as a booster for people who have already been vaccinated, Russian news agencies reported.
Russia previously promoted Sputnik Light, which comprises the first shot of its two-shot Sputnik V, as an effective standalone vaccine or a booster that can be combined with non-Russian vaccines.
"As the delta variant is advancing, there will definitely be changes made today to the methodological recommendations on vaccinations where it will (say): only use Sputnik Light for re-vaccination," Health Minister Mikhail Murashko was quoted as saying by TASS.
Sputnik Light has demonstrated 70 percent effectiveness against the delta variant three months after injection.
At the G20, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the international community was "very close” to meeting the World Health Organization’s target of vaccinating 40 percent of the global population by the end of 2021.
But Draghi noted that, while more than 70 percent of people in developed countries have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the number drops to around 3 percent in the poorest parts of the world.
"These differences are morally unacceptable, and undermine the global recovery," he said.