Staunton, September 14 – Germany’s Handelsblatt reports that foreign investigators who have been looking into Russian testing of the Sputnik 5 vaccine have found that in many cases, the results for individuals are repeated without change, something they say is highly unlikely and likely evidence of falsification (inopressa.ru/article/14Sep2020/handelsblatt/impfstoff.html).
Many Russians are suspicious as well: Only one in five thinks that the Russian vaccine is safe (svobodaradio.livejournal.com/4578208.html); and despite claims that vaccination will be voluntary, Moscow may take pandemic subsidies away from doctors who refuse to get vaccinated (medvestnik.ru/content/news/NII-Minzdrava-predlojil-lishat-medrabotnikov-stimuliruushih-vyplat-za-otkaz-ot-vakcinacii.html).
Another sign of resistance to the vaccine is that officials are stressing that the vaccine alone won’t defeat the coronavirus and that Russians must continue to wear masks and observe social distancing, especially during flu season (ng.ru/moscow/2020-09-14/8_7963_msk14092020.html
t.me/COVID2019_official/1494). But experts predicted that there will be an upsurge in cases in the coming weeks and months (versia.ru/specialisty-sprognozirovali-podem-zabolevaemosti-koronavirusom-v-noyabre).
The pandemic continues to ebb and flow across the country, with officials in many places, including the two capitals, saying they hope to avoid new restrictions but aren’t ready to relax existing ones (regnum.ru/news/society/3057754.html, regnum.ru/news/3063030.html, regnum.ru/news/3062870.html and regnum.ru/news/3062836.html).
There are reports that the pandemic has spread to another closed city, Novouralsk in Sverdlovsk Oblast, an indication that the movement about of even a small number of people can spread the virus (regnum.ru/news/3062561.html).
The Russian government also began fining those who returned from abroad for failing to get tested as they were required to. The fines amount to 15,000 rubles (220 US dollars) (mk.ru/social/2020/09/12/otdokhnuvshikh-za-granicey-rossiyan-nachali-shtrafovat-na-15000.html).
A major issue in Russia now concerns whether schools will have to go back to distance learning. A new study reports that 83.8 percent of pupils suffered psychologically from being at home (regnum.ru/news/3062820.html), and officials are saying that they will try to avoid any new distance learning regime (https://regnum.ru/news/3062514.html).
But as numbers of infections rise and as the costs of arranging classrooms soar in order to meet government pandemic standards, that may not be possible, some administrators say. They simply don’t have the money now to make their schools safe and will close them if they need to (mk.ru/social/2020/09/14/chinovnik-predskazal-zakrytie-shkol-net-deneg-na-koronavirusnye-pravila.html
krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80029); and the central government has cut back on spending for more expensive medicines from foreign sources (kommersant.ru/doc/4485190).
Russian government officials are presenting an increasingly upbeat projection of incomes, although the deterioration many Russians have experienced is deep enough that the Kremlin is now blaming the situation abroad for the problems inside Russia (kp.ru/daily/217182/4287172/krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80027).
One new sign of economic distress: with the support of the Russian Central Bank, other banks are writing off their bad loans that failing companies can’t pay in order to reduce the stress on their operations (vtimes.io/news/krizis-ubivaet-kompanii and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80013).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Petersburg residents have noticed that the first supplies of vaccine are going to wealthier neighborhoods in the northern capital rather than poorer ones (regnum.ru/news/3063169.html).
· As the fall draft gets under way, medical boards are testing all potential draftees for the coronavirus at least in some places (regnum.ru/news/3062906.html).
· And Vladimir Putin promised Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka that the latter’s country would be the first to receive supplies of the Russian vaccine (versia.ru/putin-zayavil-chto-belorussiya-pervoj-poluchit-rossijskuyu-vakcinu-ot-koronavirusa).