Staunton, September 20 – While Russian officials continue to downplay the recent upsurge in new coronavirus cases and to argue that the country does not face a second wave of the pandemic, one figure released today undercuts their arguments and suggests that there are bad times ahead, at least in the immediate fugure.
That statistic is the coefficient of infection, the number of others each infected individual is likely to infect. As long as it is below 1.0, the infection will ebb; when it rises much above that number, the infection will spread. Moscow had pushed it down below the former figure, but it now stands at 1.08 for the country as a whole (regnum.ru/news/3068436.html).
Not only is it now above one in the megalopolises like Moscow and St. Petersburg, but it is as high as 1.22 in Voronezh Oblast. The latter figure points to the existence of a pandemic that is still not under control and where the number of new infections and new deaths will be rising in the coming days and weeks.
Medical experts are suggesting that this new rise reflects how tired Russians have become with the restrictions. Many are letting down their guard, and the results are what everyone can now see (regnum.ru/news/3068321.html), a situation in which officials say there is no pandemic but hospitals are full (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/09/19/87165-kovida-net-koek-tozhe).
Vladimir Putiin unwittingly fed these concerns by suggesting that the military could in short order build enough new hospitals to handle any increase, an implicit suggestion that the pandemic is now producing more victims than his “optimized” health care system can cope with (regnum.ru/news/3068486.html).
Today, the Russian government reported that it had registered 6148 new cases, the highest figure since July 18. It also reported 79 additional deaths, boosting that toll to 19,418 (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F670BB2D2244).
Russian medical officials continue to react negatively to criticism of their vaccine and say that no authoritative figure disagrees with what Moscow is doing, pushing ahead with mass vaccinations even though the third phase of testing for effectiveness and safety hasn’t been completed (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/aleksandr-gintsburg-vpervye-vaktsinnyy-preparat-razrabatyvaetsya-vo-vremya-pandemii/).
At the same time, Russian doctors freely admit that they have no better idea than their counterparts elsewhere how to treat and cure those who become infected. No existing medical regimen appears certain to prevent lethal outcomes, they say (meduza.io/feature/2020/09/18/my-ne-znaem-chem-eto-lechit).
With regard to the economy, there was good news as well as bad. The good news is that the pandemic-induced decline in demand for oil and gas may force Russia to develop the rest of the economy (mk.ru/economics/2020/09/20/pandemiya-dala-shans-rossiyskoy-ekonomike-slezt-s-neftyanoy-igly.html).
But the bad news, according to the Moscow Institute for the Development of a Legal Society, is that by the end of the year, the amount of money employees will be getting in ways that will avoid the tax system is likely to rise by 30 percent as employers seek to avoid taxation (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80185).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related news from Russia today,
· Restaurant operators say the pandemic has not changed their customers’ habits: the latter still prefer to dine out rather than get take-out (pro.rbc.ru/demo/5f5a3b499a79478bb0ccef5f).
· The continuing uncertainty of the pandemic has left Russians in a pre-depressive state, according to psychologists. If things continue as they are, many will fall into serious depression (news/news/1052450478).