Greece is taking all possible necessary precautions to ensure a successful launch of the 2021 tourism season on May 14 to avoid last year’s losses — including accepting the validity of Russia’s “Sputnik V” vaccine in allowing Russians to visit the country.
The vaccine, dubbed the “traveling companion,” has a 97.6% efficacy rate under trial conditions, according to its makers. This was based on data analysis on the infection rate among people receiving both shots of the vaccine.
The Sputnik V vaccine was registered in 60 countries worldwide as of April 19, 2021 from Argentina and Mexico to Israel and the Philippines. Russian officials say they have signed deals to produce it in South Korea and India. Via a post on Twitter on April 6, 2021, the distributor confirmed that it could supply Greece with the vaccine for 500,000 people in May.
A soft opening of the tourism sector in Greece commenced on Monday, April 20, by lifting its seven-day quarantine requirements for international travelers arriving from the EU, the Schengen Area, the US, the UK, Israel, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates upon proof of vaccination, immunity, or a negative PCR test on arrival.
Expected in this is group is hundreds of thousands of tourists from Russia as a result of joint efforts to resume tourism activity between the two countries.
Russia’s Sputnik V recognized on a bilateral level
However, the Sputnik V is still under review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). There are not enough doses of other vaccines available in the EU to satisfy demand, so the desire for new options is substantial.
The EU Green Passport regulation, due to be adopted soon, does not recognize vaccines that have not yet been approved by the EMA. However, it is flexible enough to allow EU member states to accept the validity of certain vaccines, such as Russia’s Sputnik V, on what it calls a “bilateral level.”
Therefore, tourists from Russia with proof of this vaccination, or their recovery from Covid-19 or a negative PCR test upon arrival, may be exempt from quarantine rules, just like tourists from other specific destinations.
Sputnik V uses a two-shot viral-vector platform
This vaccine uses a harmless virus to introduce genetic material that causes COVID to be introduced into your immune system – like the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. It was developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, which has also been involved in developing vaccines for Ebola and MERA.
Sputnik V has two key advantages that make its distribution easier: it is among the cheapest of all COVID-19 vaccines, and it can be transported easily.
Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis in Moscow
During his recent visit to Moscow, Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis assured Russians that Greece’s national vaccination committee considers the Sputnik V Russian vaccine equivalent to European vaccines for travel purposes.
Therefore, Russian citizens who are vaccinated may come to Greece “without having to undergo a screening procedure and additional tests,” Theocharis said.
“Russian tourists have already chosen our country as a destination, and all that remains is the official release of travel,” he said.