The daily number of new confirmed cases of covid-19 in Russia has exceeded 25,000 for the past two weeks. The number of reported cases, however, has fluctuated widely in recent days with no apparent direction. Moreover, strong suspicions have been voiced that Russian statistics ignore some covid-related deaths (and possibly infections as well). Official figures report just over 41,000 covid-related deaths in Russia.
While officials have tightened restrictions in the face of rising covid infections, they remain reluctant to impose severe lockdowns on movement and business as last spring. Mask use is now mandatory in public spaces and on public transport in many cities. In St. Petersburg, for example, restaurant hours will be restricted throughout December and the New Year’s holidays. The hope is that these measures will be adequate to stem the rapid rise in new cases.
Russia announced administration of its own ”Sputnik V” vaccine will begin next week. President Vladimir Putin said the Sputnik V vaccine was ready for distribution, with nearly 2 million doses already manufactured. Given Russia’s population of nearly 146 million, production still needs to ramp up substantially. Putin said that the first groups to receive vaccinations would be healthcare workers and teachers. Vaccination of Russian military personnel is already underway. Russia has several other vaccines in various stages of development. It has also participated in trials of several foreign-developed vaccines. Widespread fears about vaccines could cause problems for Russia’s vaccination efforts. Several public opinion surveys conducted this autumn found that perhaps half of Russians are reluctant to get a covid vaccine jab.