Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 30 June 2021
Pandemic Crisis Hits Russia Amid Failed Vaccination Campaign
Although the Delta variant is sweeping across the globe, Western countries are slowly recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Russia is now struggling with a more and more dramatic situation. The country saw its highest daily death toll since the outbreak of the pandemic while the nation remains dramatically under-vaccinated compared to other major world states. Yet Russia became the first country in the world to pride itself on developing a vaccine against coronavirus.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin received a vaccine in February, it was only recently that he revealed that he had been inoculated with the domestically developed Sputnik V vaccine. He said he was opposed to mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for Russians, but added regional authorities had right to introduce localized mandatory vaccinations to avoid a new lockdown. Also on June 30, Russia saw its highest daily death toll since the coronavirus pandemic spread worldwide, with 669 people dying. There were also more than 21,000 new infections. The country has battled a spike in new cases since early June that authorities tend to link to the spread of the Delta variant. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said that the highly contagious version accounts for 90 percent of cases in the capital. But the main problem could be widespread reluctance among Russians to get a jab. Some 23 million people in Russia have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, out of a population of more than 144 million, according to the country’s health ministry who gave that figure as of June 28. This is why authorities in some twenty Russian regions have made coronavirus vaccines mandatory. Officials ordered businesses and institutions involved notably in retail and services to ensure that at least 60 percent of their staffs are fully vaccinated. Russia will fail to vaccinate 60 percent of its population against Covid-19 by the autumn as planned, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on June 29. Authorities say none of the country’s more than eighty regions is able to inoculate 60 percent of its population. The state coronavirus taskforce has revised its Covid-19 vaccination scheme along with its initial plan to vaccinate 60 percent by fall and now recommends inoculating just between 30 and 35 percent of people in Russia. New guidelines were sent out to governors. Now authorities in Russia say they want to reach a 60 percent target of adults having antibodies following both inoculation and infection. The earlier version mentioned just the vaccinated.
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