With the Russian State Duma in session despite the Covid-19 pandemic, some MPs went beyond the obligatory face masks and rubber gloves, leaving their colleagues and citizens baffled by unusual means to fend off the virus.
“For several sessions in row, I’ve seen MPs wearing white crosses on their chests,” Igor Molyakov of the Fair Russia party said on Wednesday, asking his colleagues to clarify the unusual accessory. State Duma deputies usually wear an official badge, which is shaped as a Russian tricolor.
Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin stepped up to educate his colleague and dispel the “white cross” mystery for him. “As I’m being told, those are some kind of special devices, which scare the virus off,” he explained.
The badges worn by the MPs appear to be the so-called ‘virus stoppers.’ The manufactures of those devices insist that they protect the wearer from getting infected by releasing chlorine dioxide within a 1-meter radius to change the structure of the proteins of viruses and make them inactive. They’re currently sold online by Russian pharmacies for less than 900 rubles (around $12).
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov was also seen wearing one of such badges. He told journalists in April that he bought one at a pharmacy as a preventive measure, but was not sure it worked or if it was dangerous. He was hospitalized with Covid-19 on Tuesday.
So far, five Russian parliamentarians have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but it is not known if they used the “stoppers.”
There is no medical confirmation that these badges function as described, or have any side effects. Chlorine dioxide is used to clean water and surfaces and it made headlines in the US after some people attempted to drink it to fight Covid-19, something the US Food and Drug Administration warned against.
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