Staunton, August 27 Russian officials earlier sent contradictory messages on how serious the coronavirus threat was. Now, they are sending equally mixed messages about its cure. They promise mass inoculation with the first vaccine they’ve developed but admit that they haven’t completed clinical trials on it and are open to a second and competition between the two.
Such lack of consistency will further erode public confidence in the vaccines and lead more people to refuse to get any of them in the near future, thus reducing still further the impact of Vladimir Putin’s much-ballyhooed “Sputnik-5” medication (versia.ru/kak-oleg-deripaska-pomog-nic-gamalei-vyigrat-vojnu-za-100-milliardov-dollarov-na-vakcine-ot-koronavirusa).
Putin said that a second Russian vaccine, developed by Vektor Laboratories, will soon be used and that it will compete with the first (regnum.ru/news/3047494.htmlyoutube.com/watch?v=p4it06ZrBsA).
At the same time, Russian officials announced that they would begin testing in St. Petersburg a Chinese vaccine against the coronavirus to see whether it has advantages (regnum.ru/news/3047688.html). At the same time, they said that the first Russian vaccine was now being released for use (regnum.ru/news/3047447.html).
Putin today also expressed hope that there would not be a second wave. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said the situation had stabilized. But the health ministry said Russia was now prepared for a second wave (https://regnum.ru/news/3047431.html, regnum.ru/news/3047566.html and mk.ru/social/2020/08/27/murashko-rossiyskie-meduchrezhdeniya-gotovy-ko-vtoroy-volne-koronavirusa.html).
The push to have Russians vaccinated against the coronavirus is being combined with an expanded effort to have them get shots against the flu (regnum.ru/news/3047110.html). But officials continue to stress this will all be voluntary, noting that even teachers will not be required to have either vaccine (regnum.ru/news/3047216.html).
That will do little or nothing to calm the concerns of Russian parents about sending their children back to school.
One interesting detail about the race for the vaccine surfaced today. Versiya reported that Russian victory in this race had been predetermined by the opening of a epidemiological laboratory in Africa several years ago by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Its work gave Moscow a real advantage (versia.ru/kak-oleg-deripaska-pomog-nic-gamalei-vyigrat-vojnu-za-100-milliardov-dollarov-na-vakcine-ot-koronavirusa).
Today, Russian officials reported registering 4711 new cases of infection, bringing the total to 975,576 and 121 new deaths, upping that toll to 16,804 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1367). These overall figures obscured the regional ebb and flow of the virus and the consequent re-opening and re-closing of public facilities (regnum.ru/news/society/3045839.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Medical officials say the pandemic has led to dramatic breakthroughs in digital medicine, although the branch still suffers from shortages of basic equipment like thermometers (chaskor.ru/article/covid-19_uskoril_tsifrovuyu_transformatsiyu_v_zdravoohranenii_46545 and egnum.ru/news/3047670.html).
· Russian Rail announces that it has restored 80 percent of the long-haul routes that it had suspended during the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3047070.html).
· At least 29 clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church have died from the coronavirus so far (ahilla.ru/v-rpts-ot-kovida-za-period-s-aprelya-po-avgust-umerli-29-svyashhennosluzhitelej/). For that and its ineffective response to the pandemic, the church is now being criticized by commentators (regnum.ru/news/society/3047313.html).