Tuesday, November 10, 2020

After Pfizer Reports Its Vaccine is 90 Percent Effective, Moscow Says Its Sputnik-5 is Too

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 9 – Immediately after Western pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced that it had developed a coronavirus vaccine that has proven effective in all three stages of testing, Moscow announced that its Sputnik-5 vaccine is 90 percent effective even though it acknowledges that it still hasn’t completed the third stage of testing (reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-russia-vaccine/russias-sputnik-v-vaccine-over-90-effective-health-ministry-idUSKBN27P20T and regnum.ru/news/3110555.html).

            Russian officials registered another 21,798 cases of infection today, yet another record, bringing the cumulative total to 1,796,132. They also said that 256 more coronavirus deaths had been recorded, upping that total to 30,793 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1943). Officials also said doctors are monitoring 425,000 Russians who are recovering from the disease and tested 526,000 people today (regnum.ru/news/3109938.html and regnum.ru/news/3109942.html).

            But all these figures were being treated with increasing skepticism because analysts are showing that the government data are inconsistent with one another and pointing to the numerous errors in the system that make infection and death statistics especially problematic (rbc.ru/society/09/11/2020/5fa5aade9a7947364bedb716 and forum-msk.org/material/news/16802815.html).

            The Russian government continued a now familiar pattern. The Kremlin promised not to impose new restrictions, but Moscow officials said the regions had to do so and that Russians must do a better job of wearing masks if the pandemic is to be contained (ura.news/news/1052457823 and ria.ru/20201109/koronavirus-1583747681.html).

            But some problems in the system can’t be easily wished away by denial, including shortages of medications and hospital beds. The Russian government promises to help with both (regnum.ru/news/3110311.html and regnum.ru/news/3110351.html). But it hasn’t always lived up to its promises.

            To prevent people from finding out just how dire the situation is, Russian officials are firing doctors who have told the media what conditions are really like and bringing criminal charges carrying up to 2.5 years in prison against journalists who report what they say (idelreal.org/a/30937168.html and mbk-news.appspot.com/news/prokuratura-zaprosila/).

            Enough information is getting out, however, to conclude that the pandemic is getting worse both in major cities and in the regions and that the authorities are facing ever more problems in trying to limit it or treat those who need medical care (regnum.ru/news/society/3107229.html and regnum.ru/news/3109669.html).

            An LDPR Duma deputy has pointed out that the regions that are worst off economically are also suffering the most from the coronavirus. Their people have poorer diets and less medical care and their hospitals sometimes do more to spread the virus than to fight it (regnum.ru/news/3110391.html, ura.news/news/1052457756, https://fedpress.ru/expert-opinion/2616420 and sibreal.org/a/30937768.html).

            It is also the case that in many poorer regions, the powers that be have done less to promote mask wearing and fewer people do. More than half of residents in Penza Oblast, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia, for example, aren’t wearing masks as they should (etokavkaz.ru/news/100770 ).

            Economic news was mixed, an improvement on recent days. Economists say inflation is about to take off to more than two percent (regnum.ru/news/3110428.html), and China has blocked truck traffic from Russia because it has discovered the virus on Russian vehicles (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/kitay-perestal-puskat-fury-iz-rossii-1029780470).

            And experts say that about 25 percent of Russia’s restaurants and cafes will not survive the pandemic and related economic crisis (mbk-news.appspot.com/news/kafe-i-restorani/). But there was rare good news: the Pfizer announcement has sent oil prices sharply higher (rg.ru/2020/11/09/ceny-na-neft-vzleteli-na-novostiah-o-vakcine-ot-covid-19.html).

            Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,

·         The shamans of Tyva asked the spirits to intervene to same their republic, Russia and the world from the pandemic (nazaccent.ru/content/34449-tuvinskie-shamany-pomolyatsya-duham-dlya-podavleniya.html).

·         Russian cancer victims are becoming collateral victims of the pandemic because they can no longer count on getting needed medications and care as these have shifted to coronavirus victims (ura.news/articles/1036281389).

·         An ever larger share of Russians and Russian businesses have stopped using cash and are relying on credit cards, following a trend already common in many other countries (versia.ru/rossiyanam-rasskazali-ob-obezzarazhivanii-deneg-v-pandemiyu-koronavirusa).

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