PRAGUE/WARSAW, March 2 (Reuters) – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s comments that Moscow’s nuclear deterrent is on high alert have unleashed a wave of anxiety in Central Europe, with people rushing to buy iodine which they believe may protect them from radiation.
From Poland to Bulgaria, people living in the former Soviet-era satellite states have also jammed passport offices, topped up their fuel tanks and prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
“In the past six days Bulgarian pharmacies have sold as much [iodine] as they sell for a year,” said Nikolay Kostov, chair of the Pharmacies Union. “Some pharmacies are already out of stock. We have ordered new quantities but I am afraid they will not last very long.”
“It’s been a bit mad,” said Miroslava Stenkova, a representative of Dr. Max pharmacies in the Czech Republic, where some stores had run out of iodine after demand soared.
Iodine – taken as pills or syrup – is considered a way of protecting the body against conditions such as thyroid cancer in case of radioactive exposure. In 2011, Japanese authorities recommended that people around the site of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant take iodine.
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