Russia: more Covid deaths than ever – politics

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A cemetery worker in Omsk – excess mortality in Russia is extremely high.

(Photo: AP/AP)

What has Sergei Sobyanin not already come up with to get more Muscovites to vaccinate? The mayor raffled cars among those who picked up their first dose in the summer. When that was not enough, he introduced compulsory vaccinations for many professional groups. Now he is taking on the elderly: the city will give every Muscovite over 65 years of age 10,000 rubles, around 120 euros, as soon as he or she is pricked for the second time.

The vaccination rate across the country is worryingly low and the number of new infections is alarmingly high. The responsible Vice Prime Minister, Tatiana Golikova, warned at the beginning of October that three times as many people would be infected per week than at the same time a year ago. Even more frightening is the number of corona deaths, which has been setting new records almost every day for weeks. It is now close to a thousand deaths a day, and has never been so high in Russia since the beginning of the pandemic.

Now the official numbers have often been kept artificially low, especially in the first months of the pandemic. The Russian corona statistics are likely to be much more realistic today. Nonetheless, they keep raising questions. It is noticeable, for example, that the steeply rising numbers only became an issue after the Kremlin had come through the State Duma elections well.

According to authorities, more than 220,000 people have now died as a result of Covid-19 in Russia. The excess mortality since the beginning of the pandemic is three times as high. The Russian demographer Alexej Rakscha, who previously advised the statistics agency Rosstat, made another calculation: He assumes that the Russian population will have shrunk by a million between October 2020 and September 2021, not counting emigrants. It would be the greatest peacetime decline.

Not even a third of the population is vaccinated

The demographer cites the high mortality rate as the main reason for this. And: “Almost the entire increase in mortality is due to Covid-19,” Rakscha told the newspaper Nesawissimaja Gazette. For example, there were no more traffic accidents or cancer deaths during this time. Mortality increased where it could be “linked to the coronavirus: respiratory tract, circulatory system, diabetes”.

One reason for the increasing number of new infections is probably the great skepticism of the Russians about vaccinations. Less than a third of them have had one of the Russian vaccines injected, although most of the time there was no shortage of it. But space in the Covid hospitals is threatened to become scarce again, according to the Ministry of Health, 235,000 of the nationwide 255,000 beds are currently occupied. The state space company Roskosmos even said it would postpone some missile tests because of this situation. Roskosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin named “the growing demand for medical oxygen for treating the sick” as the reason for this. His company donates up to 33 tons of oxygen to medical facilities every day.

There has been no talk of a new lockdown so far. The corona rules in Russia have been much looser since last summer than in Germany, for example. The Kremlin let the regions decide on protective measures themselves, and many did not keep their shops and restaurants closed for long. More and more regions are now introducing compulsory vaccinations, at least for professional groups with a lot of customer contact.

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