The designer of the Russian vaccine against the coronavirus Sputnik V said on Monday that it protected against “all known variants” including the Delta, responsible for an outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic in Russia.
The Russian capital and its region, as well as the country’s second city, Saint Petersburg, are particularly affected by this new wave, causing contamination records while the vaccination campaign is slipping. The Moscow region recorded its biggest daily increase on Monday since the start of the pandemic with 1,811 cases, while the capital shows 7,584 new infections. As of the end of last week, the daily cases exceeded 9,000.
Encourage the population to be vaccinated
According to the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, around 90% of new cases are due to the Delta variant, more contagious, which appeared in India and which threatens to overwhelm hospitals in the capital. In this context, Alexandre Guintsbourg, director of the Gamaleïa center at the origin of Sputnik V, affirmed that the double injection “protects against all currently known variants, starting with the British and up to the Delta variant, the Indian variant” .
These remarks aim to encourage the Russian population to be vaccinated, while the immunization campaign is lagging behind against a background of mistrust and despite repeated calls from President Vladimir Putin. In Moscow, the authorities last week decreed compulsory vaccination of employees in the service sector. Some 60% of them, or about two million people, must be vaccinated by August 15.
A city of the Euro, soon submerged
St. Petersburg, which currently hosts Euro-2020 football matches and is also affected by the outbreak, has announced plans to vaccinate 65% of local officials by August. In this city, new restrictions came into force on Monday, including the ban on the sale of food in Euro fan-zones and the closure of food courts in shopping centers. The number of daily infections there exceeded a thousand cases on Monday for the first time since February.
Videos released by local media showed an overwhelmed St. Petersburg hospital, with patients lying on the floor. Other videos posted on social media showed crowded black commuter trains with locals, mostly without masks, leaving the city for the countryside amid a heat wave.
“The trend is bad”
Speaking to MPs on Monday, Vladimir Putin stressed that “the danger of the coronavirus is still present” and that “the situation is worsening in several regions”. But he was pleased that his country had “managed to mitigate the first blow of the epidemic, the hardest” last year. Its spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, admitted that “the real situation is difficult” and that “the trend is bad”.
Russia is the most bereaved European country with 129,801 deaths recorded by the government. The statistics agency Rosstat, which has a broader definition of deaths linked to Covid, has recorded some 270,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.