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‘What are those white crosses?’ Badges to ‘scare off’ coronavirus prompt dress-code debate in Russian parliament

‘What are those white crosses?’ Badges to ‘scare off’ coronavirus prompt dress-code debate in Russian parliament
With Russia's 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 using unorthodox 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.  Parliamentary deputies usually wear an official badge, which is shaped like the Russian tricolor. 

Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin stepped up to educate his colleague and explain the “white cross” mystery to him. “As I’m being told, these are some kind of special devices, which scare the virus off,” he explained.

The badges worn by the MPs appear to be so-called ‘virus stoppers.’ The manufactures of the items 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). 

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Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov has also been seen wearing one of the badges. He told journalists in April that he bought one at a pharmacy as a preventive measure, but he 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 coronavirus, but it is not known if they used the “stoppers.”

Needless to say, there is no medical evidence that the badges function as described, or that they don't have any side effects. Chlorine dioxide is used to clean water and surfaces. 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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