The reports about Israel allowing in tourists vaccinated with Sputnik V surfaced back in October, but the move has been marred by controversy since the vaccine is not recognized by the World Health Organization.
The final approval was issued by the Health Ministry following efforts by Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov, who personally flew to Moscow to discuss the move with the Russian authorities.
The entry of tourists will still be subject to a serological examination to be performed in Russian laboratories approved by Israel’s Health Ministry.
According to the outline, a Russian citizen jabbed with Sputnik V will be able to upload the results of the serological test to the Health Ministry’s website before arrival.
The initial outline, proposed back in October, required tourists who have received the Russian vaccine to undergo a serological examination upon arrival in Israel. But the Russians insisted the tests should be performed in Russia, according to indices set by Israel’s health authorities.
In addition to the serological test results, those jabbed with Sputnik V must also provide an up-to-date result of a PCR or antigen coronavirus test before arrival and undergo additional tests upon landing – as is required from all foreigners entering the country.
The move means that Israel de facto recognizes the Sputnik vaccine. Alongside WHO, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have also not recognized Sputnik vaccines.
“After two years of international tourism in Israel being non-existent, we couldn’t allow ourselves to give up on the Russian tourists, and certainly in the winter months when the weather in Israel is perfect for tourism”, said Razvozov following the approval.
“A good word must be said to the people of the Health Ministry, who went along with me on this complex ride, as well as to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who assisted politically in advancing the matter”.