Staunton, August 11 – Vladimir Putin says Russian scientists have come up with the first coronavirus vaccine in the world, that it is safe and effective, that it will be available on a voluntary basis in the near term, and that it will bring an end to the pandemic in Russia and anywhere else the “Sputnik-5” vaccine is used (nakanune.ru/articles/116286/).
Given the stakes involved, it is no surprise that most reporting has focused on Putin’s claims rather than on some aspects of this case which raise questions about what he is saying. Medical specialists and even those behind the vaccine urged that its registration be delayed, the vaccine was given only a temporary registration (until January 1), and won’t be widely available until next year (regnum.ru/news/3033800.html, kp.ru/daily/217167/4268507 and ng.ru/health/2020-08-11/7_7934_news1.html
And many Russian officials and medical experts adopted a more restrained position than Putin’s. They suggested that even if Russia does have a vaccine, that is no reason to weaken current efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic by other means (regnum.ru/news/society/3028625.html).
There was some good news on the ground, however. Officials reported that for the first time since April, the number of new cases of infection had fallen under 5,000 to 4945, although there was an uptick in the number of deaths to 130 during the last 24 hours. That brings the two cumulative totals to 897,599 and 15,131 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1260).
Across the Russian Federation, the pandemic continued, in some places improving and allowing for re-openings and in others getting worse and forcing re-closures (regnum.ru/news/society/3028625.html). Most places are now focusing on the beginning of the school year and the need to sanitize facilities for in-person instruction (regnum.ru/news/3033392.html and regnum.ru/news/3034102.html).
Putin’s announcement did generate “almost euphoria” on the Russian stock market, analysts said (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/pochti-eyforiya-rynok-akciy-rf-obnovil-maksimum-na-zayavleniyakh-putina-o-vakcine-1029493242). But other economic news was dire: the number of small businesses is continuing to contract (vedomosti.ru/business/articles/2020/08/11/836350-v-rossii-sokratilos-chislo-malih-predpriyatii), and housing sales have collapsed (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/78961).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has give doctors involved in the treatment of the coronavirus to retire early (https://regnum.ru/news/3033699.html).
· Russians are drinking less imported alcohol and less domestically produced legal spirits but more moonshine (forum-msk.org/material/news/16627935.html).
· And Russian officials are beginning mass inoculations against the bubonic plague in regions and republics adjoining Mongolia (siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/russia-begins-mass-vaccination-against-bubonic-plague-in-danger-areas-near-border-border-with-mongolia/).