Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 24 August 2021
Covid-19: Delta Variant Takes Heavy Toll In Russia
New days are bringing more than 800 new coronavirus deaths in Russia. The number of new infections remains high, too. The authorities do not know how to persuade people to get vaccinated. The poor vaccination rate in Russia and an uptick fueled by the Delta variant are both responsible for the surge in new cases across the country.
On August 17, Russia reported more than 20,000 new coronavirus cases and 800 pandemic deaths for another consecutive day. Since the pandemic broke out, 170,000 people have died while more than 6.6 million have been diagnosed. Russia saw for a few days in a row in mid-August a record-high number of fatalities when over 800 people died each day. Record-high numbers of fatalities result from the surge in new cases in July. Nonetheless, independent demographers and health specialists do not believe in the official figures, claiming that Russian officials underestimate both the number of death and new cases. The situation has even got worse in Moscow where more than 1.5 million new coronavirus cases were reported. City authorities said mortality in July 2021 was 70 percent higher than before the pandemic, in July 2019, and 60 percent higher than last year. They added that mortality figures skyrocketed as Russia dealt with usually hot summer while an intense heatwave contributes to ill health for the infected. The surge is being blamed on the Delta variant and insufficient inoculation figures. Russia’s Health Minister Mikhail Murashko stated that the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 is around 83 percent effective against the Delta variant of coronavirus, lower than previously thought at 91.6 percent. Although Russia registered four vaccines, including its homemade Sputnik V, authorities did not convince the Russians to get their jab, which is why Russia’s vaccination rate is one of the lowest in large developed countries. Russia introduces some incentives to have the vaccination, but these are unlikely to convince the Russians. For example, the country launched a lottery that will give 1,000 vaccinated winners 100,000 roubles ($1,400). Authorities prefer the carrot to the stick, though. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has canceled rules requiring employers in the capital to ensure at least 30 percent of unvaccinated staff work remotely. Guidelines to employers to regularly test employees for coronavirus and take temperature checks have also been scrapped.
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