MOSCOW/MILAN (Reuters) – The tiny Republic of San Marino, landlocked inside Italy, on Wednesday announced the launch of a vaccine tourism programme, offering the Russian-made Sputnik V COVID-19 shot to visitors from May 17.
The 24-square-mile (61-square-kilometre) enclave, with a population of 34,000, first received a batch of Sputnik in February and has so far immunized 25,000 people, officials said on a briefing on Wednesday, mostly with the Russian vaccine.
With no coronavirus patients currently in hospital, San Marino decided it was capable of launching a campaign inviting tourists to get vaccinated with Sputnik V, tourism minister Federico Pedini Amati said on the briefing.
“The vaccination tourism campaign will start on 17 May and will concern foreign, non-Italian citizens,” the minister said.
Tourists wishing to come for vaccination would have to reserve hotel rooms at least one week before arrival, he said. They would also be required to have plans in place for a second trip, 21 to 28 days later, to receive their booster dose.
Two doses would cost tourists 15 euros, San Marino officials said. They also said they hoped the country would soon be able to generate vaccination certificates for residents and tourists.
San Marino is not a European Union member and Sputnik V has not yet been approved for use in the EU. The vaccine is currently under review by the bloc’s regulator, the European Medicines Agency.
In a press release on Monday the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the sovereign wealth fund responsible for marketing the vaccine abroad, said it was ready to provide additional batches of Sputnik V to San Marino.
“RDIF is ready to provide additional supplies of the vaccine to arrange vaccination tourism,” RDIF chief executive Kirill Dmitriev was cited as saying.
(Reporting by Polina Ivanova in Moscow and Emilio Parodi in Milan; Editing by Estelle Shirbon)