Russia records the highest daily death toll in Covid, but resists lockdown

OMSK, RUSSIA OCTOBER 9, 2021: Cemetery workers in protective gear bury people who died of causes related to COVID-19 at Novo-Yuzhnoye Cemetery. Yevgeny Sofiychuk / TASS (Photo by Yevgeny Sofiychuk TASS via Getty Images)

Yevgeny Sofiychuk | TASS | Getty Images

Russia has broken a grim new record in its Covid-19 pandemic, in which the number of daily deaths caused by the virus hit a new high.

Russia reported 28,190 new coronavirus cases and 973 deaths as a result of covid Tuesday, a new record number of daily deaths, according to data from the government’s coronavirus task force. In total, Russia has registered over 7.8 million cases of the virus and over 218,000 deaths.

Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko issued stern warnings about the public health crisis in Russia on Tuesday, telling a cabinet meeting that the prevalence of Covid in Russia had risen 16% over the past week, and in some regions the growth rate was more than 30%.

Russia has about 255,000 beds for Covid patients, of which about 235,000 are occupied, Murashko said, with 11% of Russia’s hospitalized Covid patients in a serious or critical condition “and virtually all are patients who have not been vaccinated,” he said. Murashko, according to the news agency TASS.

Russia is desperate to increase vaccination rates in the country, but many members of the public have been reluctant to take the Covid shot, primarily the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine. often despite offers of incentives including money, shopping vouchers and gift cards, and easy access to facilities such as walk-in immunization centers.

So far, however, the Kremlin has resisted making Covid vaccination mandatory to the general public, even if it is a wide crowd of workers in several regions, and in several sectors such as retail, healthcare and education, who need to have a Covid vaccine now or risk losing their jobs.

Read more: Putin says Russia will not make Covid vaccines mandatory, but skepticism remains a problem

Nevertheless, vaccination rates remain low, with about 31% of Russia’s 144 million people fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.

The frustration over the slow acceptance of Covid vaccines has been palpable in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has made several attempts to write off the benefits of the vaccine to the reluctant public.

On Tuesday, that effort continued with Putin allegedly telling a meeting of deputies (parliament) that they needed to work harder to increase Russia’s vaccination rates.

“We need to work persistently and patiently with people, explaining to them all the benefits associated with preventing this dangerous disease,” he said, TASS reported.

Yet there is no sign that Russia is willing to implement a nationwide lockdown with the power to block given to Russian regions, where restrictions vary widely.

Vaccine skepticism

People walk through Red Square on a sunny autumn day in Moscow on October 9, 2021.

DIMITAR DILKOFF | AFP | Getty Images

Despite this, a poll of Russia’s poll in Levada, published in March, found that 62% of the population did not want the vaccine, with the highest level of reluctance found among 18- to 24-year-olds.

The latest data from Levada released in early September, shows that skepticism about the vaccine is still high, but has fallen over the summer, with 52% of Russians surveyed not wanting to be vaccinated with a Russian vaccine. In the survey among 1,619 people conducted in August, 14% said they were ready to be vaccinated with about a third saying they had already been vaccinated.

More than half of the Russians surveyed (55%) said they were not also afraid of coronavirus infection, indicators that have hardly changed since early 2021 despite recent warnings about the spread of The more virulent delta variant.

Read more: Fully vaccinated are still infected with Covid. Experts explain why

Murashko warned on Tuesday that young people were no longer a guard against Covid and told the cabinet meeting that “we have seen patients up to the age of 30 who are on intensive care with serious complications.”

“Therefore, young age today is not insurance against disease and its complications,” he said according to the news agency TASS.

No love has been lost between Russia and its neighbor Ukraine given the former’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and subsequent pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, but both countries have in common their difficulties in overcoming the Covid crisis.

Like Russia, Ukraine recorded an almost record number of deaths in the last 24 hours, reported 471 deaths related to coronavirus and very close to the record daily number of 481, the Ministry of Health reported Wednesday.

– CNBC’s Hadley Gamble leads a panel with Russian President Vladimir Putin and CEOs of BP, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil and Daimler at Russian Energy Week. Watch live at 13.00 Moscow / 11.00 London time on Wednesday 13 October.

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