Staunton, August 28 – Vladimir Putin celebrated Russia being the first to announce a vaccine, but a new Levada poll suggests Russians are less impressed. Forty percent said they distrusted the discovery (and another 10 percent said they were indifferent), more than twice the 18 percent who said they took pride in it (levada.ru/2020/08/28/vaktsina-ot-koronavirusa/).
Today, Russian officials report registered 4829 new cases of infection of the coronavirus, bringing that total to 980,405, and 110 new deaths, boosting that toll to 16,914 (zona.media/chronicle/krnaugust). Officials added that a large share of the fatalities were among those over 65 (regnum.ru/news/3048197.html).
Again today, as in recent weeks, the defense ministry did not release statistics on how many soldiers have come down with the coronavirus or died from the disease. Instead, it put out data only about the number of uniformed personnel who had been cured – just over 10,000. It is difficult if not impossible to extrapolate from that to the number of infected and deaths.
Discussion of the vaccine continued to dominate coverage of the pandemic. Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that he for one would not get inoculated, demonstrating that the choice to do so will be voluntary but sending a message to others that they won’t face serious problems with the authorities if they too refuse (regnum.ru/news/3048346.html).
Again, officials said that they would not inoculate children at least not this year (regnum.ru/news/3048233.html). But serious disagreements emerged on how much herd immunity has been achieved, with some saying that millions of Russians are now immune butothers questioning that figure (regnum.ru/news/3048096.html and regnum.ru/news/3048272.html).
Ever more often, Russian officials suggested that wearing masks and maintaining social distance will play a greater role in defeating the pandemic than the vaccine will (ng.ru/moscow/2020-08-27/8_7949_msk27082020.html).
Moscow sent a shipment of the vaccine to Belarus, making that country the first to receive one (ritmeurasia.org/news--2020-08-28--belarus-pervaja-poluchit-rossijskuju-vakcinu-ot-koronavirusa-50622); and responding to US sanctions of the Russian lab which developed the vaccine, the Russian foreign ministry said it has questions about US labs (ritmeurasia.org/news--2020-08-28--u-rossii-est-voprosy-k-rabote-amerikanskih-laboratorij-zajavila-zaharova-50620).
Moscow officials continued to insist that the pandemic is “under control,” although some conceded that it won’t be completely defeated until next summer (regnum.ru/news/3048087.html and regnum.ru/news/3048237.html). But beyond the ring road, the coronavirus continued to ebb and flow with re-openings and re-closings continuing (regnum.ru/news/society/3045839.html).
As September 1 approaches, discussion about what school life will look like this year intensified. Almost half of Russians oppose having their children wear masks in school (47 percent) although in many places this will be required (regnum.ru/news/3048156.html) including most higher education institutions (regnum.ru/news/3048154.html).
Officials announced that there will be serious restrictions on parents visiting schools and that classes will move about on their own schedules rather than all at once to minimize the spread of the coronavirus (regnum.ru/news/3048225.html and regnum.ru/news/3048207.html).
Russian spending has returned to pre-crisis levels, but economists say that much of this reflects pent up demand and government aid and won’t be sustained for long (vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2020/08/27/838026-rossiyane-vozvraschayutsya and ng.ru/moscow/2020-08-28/100_095328082020.html).
And two out of five heads of companies say that they do not think they will be able to meet their tax and other obligations to the state this year (realtribune.ru/news/economics/4962
· Russian officials say that resorts have not become the super spreader locations many feared. For every 10,000 visitors to them, there have been only six infections (regnum.ru/news/3048176.html).
· Russian oil and gas companies are counting on the vaccine to send air travel back up and save their branch (ng.ru/economics/2020-08-27/1_7949_vaccine.html).