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EU Has Reportedly Approached Russia About Mutual Recognition Of COVID Certificates

Cemetery workers wearing personal protective equipment bury a COVID-19 victim at a graveyard on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Russia.
Cemetery workers wearing personal protective equipment bury a COVID-19 victim at a graveyard on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Russia.

The European Union's envoy in Moscow was quoted on July 8 as saying that the bloc has proposed discussing possible joint recognition with Russia of their respective COVID-19 certificates.

A deal could unclog travel, tourism, and trade channels stifled by ongoing coronavirus outbreaks on both sides of the Russian-EU divide.

EU ambassador Markus Ederer said current EU legislation would enable the possibility of recognition of foreign certificates, too, according to the Russian news agency TASS.

"In that spirit, we have approached the Russian Ministry of Health and proposed discussing whether Russia would be interested in such a process," it quoted Ederer as saying.

The QR-coded EU Digital COVID Certificate went into official use throughout the 27-member bloc on July 1.

Russia has its own certificate to allow for travel, dining out, and even working in the office, but investigative reports suggest counterfeits are routinely offered on the Internet for as little as $40.

None of Russia's four approved vaccines -- including the Sputnik V shot that's being used in dozens of countries -- has been approved by the EU drugs regulator for use among member states.

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Russian regulators have not approved any foreign vaccines for use in that country.

Russia's mass vaccination effort has run into considerable headwind from vaccine hesitancy or skepticism, a problem that has also plagued many European states.

The EU Digital COVID Certificate testifies -- for travel and other purposes -- that the bearer has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has recovered from it, or has received a negative test result for infection by the coronavirus that causes it.

Russia's leading COVID-19 shot, Sputnik V, also known as Gam-COVID-Vac, has faced skepticism over early disclosure and evidentiary problems since it became the world's first nationally approved vaccine in 2020.

It has since been approved in at least 67 countries. But neither the World Health Organization (WHO) nor Western regulators outside of Hungary have approved its widespread use.

Sputnik V's developers have complained that politics have stood in the way of broader approval in the West.

A report in Nature Magazine this week asserted that "mounting evidence suggests [the] Sputnik COVID vaccine is safe and effective."

With reporting by Reuters and TASS
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