Russia Covid-19 Deaths Pass 200,000 as Epidemic’s Toll Grows

Russia’s death toll from Covid-19 reached 37,107 in January, the third-highest monthly total, even as the government’s daily figures indicate the country has passed the peak of the epidemic.

The data released Friday by the Federal Statistics Service in a statement raises overall fatalities linked to the epidemic in Russia to just over 200,000 after the death toll for December was revised up.

That revision took Russia’s total for 2020 to 163,325, the world’s third-highest fatalities linked to Covid-19. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who’s in charge of policy on the epidemic, said December was the country’s deadliest month, with fatalities almost double the level in October.

Russia Covid-19 Deaths Pass 200,000 as Epidemic’s Toll Grows

The number of new infections has declined steadily in recent months to around 11,000 per day currently from a high of almost 30,000 in late December.

The statistics service’s data are considered more accurate because they are based on death certificates. With recorded fatalities more than double the level in the daily updates, they underline the scale of the epidemic’s impact on Russia even as President Vladimir Putin has avoided returning to lockdowns that continue to harm the economies of many European nations.

The authorities in Moscow have responded to declining infection rates by lifting most restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the virus, in sharp contrast to many other European capitals.

Even as Putin has boasted that Russia is the only country to have developed three vaccines against Covid-19, domestic rates of vaccination remain low amid apparent reluctance among Russians to trust official assurances of the safety and efficacy of the inoculations.

Despite being one of the first to announce a mass vaccination program in December, Russia is well behind other nations in the number of shots administered, at 5 million first doses and 2.5 million second ones compared to nearly 83 million in the U.S. and close to 22 million in the U.K.

While demand among Russians remains low, there’s been growing interest in other nations for deliveries of the Sputnik V vaccine that Putin hailed as the world’s first Covid-19 inoculation in August.

More than 40 countries have approved the vaccine for use so far and Sputnik V’s developers began a rolling review process with the European Medicines Agency this week, a major step toward gaining acceptance in the 27-nation European Union.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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