FPRI BMB Russia: Russia facing fourth coronavirus wave as infection rates rise to fresh highs

FPRI BMB Russia: Russia facing fourth coronavirus wave as infection rates rise to fresh highs
Vaccination hesitancy means only a quarter of Russians are innoculated and infection rates are rising again just as the weather turns colder, driving people indoors.
By FPRI BMB Russia October 6, 2021

Infection rates in Russia have reached their highest level since January. There were 25,781 new cases on October 4, the highest the figure has been since there were 26,301 infections on January 2. October 4 also saw 883 deaths, making it the first time in several days that the number of daily deaths did not break the all-time record. October 3 now holds that record after 890 people died. Moscow is particularly hard hit: the number of hospitalisations of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients has increased by 20% over the past week, according to Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

Measures are being taken to stop the spread. In many regions, a QR code that verifies vaccination status will be required to attend large events, while in other regions events are banned entirely. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova warned that a difficult period is coming, saying: “I want to ask you to be careful, observe all restrictive measures, take care of yourself and your loved ones.” Infectious disease specialist Evgeny Timakov predicts that cases will begin to decrease in November and the situation will be stable from mid-December until spring. 

Vaccine reluctance remains a primary concern. Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said a vaccination rate of 60% is necessary to achieve herd immunity and stop the spread, but only 36% of Russian adults are currently vaccinated. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that “the vaccination level is insufficient to stop the spread of infection,” and Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov suggested a more “active” vaccination campaign is needed. To this end, Russians may soon be able to receive imported vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna. A proposal by the Health Ministry would grant the Moscow International Medical Cluster (MIMC) the right to import vaccines. 

Murashko says Sputnik V is back on track for WHO approval. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) applied to the WHO for accelerated registration of Sputnik V in October 2020. On September 15, the WHO suspended consideration of Sputnik V after auditing a factory in Bashkiria and finding it lacked “good manufacturing practices.” On October 2, Murashko met with the head of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, in Geneva. Murashko said all issues related to the registration of Sputnik V have been resolved, and claimed that, after proper documentation had been provided to the WHO, “all the disagreements that arose have been removed.”

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This article originally appeared in FPRI's BMB Russia newsletter. Click here to learn more about BMB Russia and subscribe to the newsletter.

 

 

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