Russia Passes 2 Million Covid-19 Cases As Deaths Hit High
(Bloomberg) -- The number of Covid-19 infections in Russia surpassed 2 million, pushing the country’s hospital system to the brink amid a record amount of new daily cases.
There were 23,610 new coronavirus cases in the last day, with 463 deaths, both records since the start of the epidemic, the government’s virus response center said Thursday. Russia has the fifth-most cases globally, after the U.S., Brazil, India and France.
Federal authorities have so far avoided locking down during the second wave of the pandemic, opting instead for limited restrictions in hard-hit regions in order to contain the economic fallout. Dozens of regions, including Moscow, which is facing the largest outbreak, have closed bars and restaurants overnight and most university students are studying remotely, among other measures. So far, only one of Russia’s 85 regions has imposed a lockdown.
“Unfortunately, the situation isn’t easy,” President Vladimir Putin told officials at a televised meeting on Covid-19 Wednesday, assuring them that it was nonetheless under control. “Most alarming is an increase in the mortality rate.”
More than 80% of Russia’s 265,000 Covid-19 beds are occupied, with several regions reporting occupancy above 90%, officials told Putin. According to the government’s daily reports, 34,850 people have died from the disease since the start of the epidemic. But more complete official data on mortality released with a substantial lag put the toll far higher, at 55,671 from April through September.
The authorities have placed their hopes on vaccines that are still in trials. Last week, the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V said initial testing showed it was 92% effective in preventing infections, although it has not yet published final results in a peer-reviewed journal.
Though the phase 3 trial is still underway, Russia has already begun vaccinating medical workers, teachers and officials. By the end of the year, producers aim to make about 2.9 million doses, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova. Two shots are required for each patient and the government aims to boost output sharply next year.
Still, inoculating everyone who wants a vaccination could take as long as a year, said Alexander Gintsburg, the director of the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology that developed the inoculation, according to RIA Novosti.
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