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Stoli cow! New Russian COVID vaccine could be tough to swallow | Marcel Strigberger

Thursday, December 24, 2020 @ 1:08 PM | By Marcel Strigberger

Marcel Strigberger %>
Marcel Strigberger
Friends, countrymen, comrades. Roll up your sleeves. 

Russia has started vaccinating its population with its own locally developed COVID-19 vaccine, they call Sputnik V.

Problem. Some consumer health officials have warned the people that they cannot drink alcohol at least two weeks before getting the first of two injections and at least six weeks after. Having that bottle of Prince Igor vodka during this two-month window can be hazardous to your health. 

Many Russians are incensed about this apparent restriction. This caveat is even more onerous especially given the holiday season. Do we see legal issues?

There are already enough folks out there who say much of this pandemic is all about the government trying to control the people, interfering with their rights to liberty. They complain about the mandatory wearing of masks, business closures and restrictions and limitations on having large gatherings. What’s the real deal in Russia? How can you tell them to go booze challenged for eight weeks? Many people are up in arms saying on social media that it’s impossible for most people in that country to abstain. 

I can see a legislator’s committee meeting in secret discussing the matter.

CHAIR:  We have to give with one hand and take with the other. How can we best keep a leash on the people?”

STRELNIKOV: “How about we tell them if they get the vaccine, for three months they cannot play chess.”

CHAIR: “Very good Dimitri. Go on. More ideas? We have to think outside the bottle.  Hey, that’s it ...” 

Or perhaps can there be adverse medical issues with the drug? If so, is there a cover-up with Sputnik V? Why do they call it Sputnik V? Were there Sputniks I-IV? If so, what happened to the individuals who tried it? Maybe they developed weird reactions, such as rashes, hair loss or the inexplicable urge to get up in the middle of the night and engage in two minutes of Cossack dancing. Who knows?   

And with this alcohol roadblock, there is also room for human error and misunderstanding. We all know some vaccines require storage at an extremely low temperature. Do we readily see some vaccinated people getting confused by all this vaccine information mistakenly thinking that they can guzzle their shots of vodka no problem if they firstly freeze it? Hey, after all, any lawyer worth his or her salt, (or maybe in this case malt), knows Sputnik V owes a duty to its consumers to warn about this risk.

There are of course opinions to the contrary including that of the vaccine’s developer, Alexander Gintsburg who says, “One glass of champagne won’t hurt anyone.”

What this entire kerfuffle suggests is that pharmaceutical companies everywhere, to avoid any consumer flak, ought to review their drawing boards and come up with vaccines that do not offend anybody.  

We have just started selective vaccinations in Canada. Regarding restrictions, so far so good. However many Canadians would be rattled to find out soon that weeks before and after getting the vaccine they would have to abstain from indulging in some of our fundamental, inalienable, and sacrosanct rights such as eating poutine.    

Health-care workers before vaccinating anybody might have to administer the appropriate caution:

“Madame, have you in the past 14 days visited a poutinerie?”

Following the parallel Russian discussions on social media, I can see many folks hesitating and then passing on the vaccine. Some may claim the pharmaceutical companies did not exercise due diligence in coming up with a vaccine which is contaminated by this obviously reasonably foreseeable flaw; the poutine curse. As a result they are suffering from mental distress.

At this time we just don’t have all the answers.

The good news is the prime minister’s announcement of a compensation fund for any possible victims of the vaccine’s side effects, though as he says, “Side effects are incredibly rare.” Does this comment inspire safety confidence? Actually I feel more assured by that comment from Gintsburg. 

Lawyers get ready. I’d say we are in for an interesting winter. 

Cheers. Nostrovia.

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

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