Staunton, September 22 – Medical experts and Russian officials clashed at a Moscow conference today as to how well Russia had done in coping with the pandemic and whether the country faces a second wave or whether the current upsurge is simply a continuation of the first (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/09/22/87195-vtoroy-val, nakanune.ru/articles/116379/ and svpressa.ru/health/article/276538/).
The recent upsurge in coronavirus cases and deaths increases, with the former going up by 6215 and the latter by 160 over the last 24 hours to 1,115,810 and 19,540 respectively (t.me/stopcoronavirusrussia/2088). The uptick is hitting Moscow and senior officials, with ten Duma deputies now hospitalized with coronavirus infections (regnum.ru/news/3070231.html).
Beyond the ring road, the pandemic continued to ebb and flow with more closings than re-openings recorded, especially in the educational system where classes and entire schools are now being quarantined and the shift from in-person instruction to distance learning is spreading, pace Kremlin claims to the contrary (regnum.ru/news/society/3064298.html).
One sector that has more or less completely reopened are domestic flights. The Aeroflot group announced that it had carried 3.6 million people on routes within the country during August, only 0.4 percent fewer than a year earlier (themoscowtimes.com/2020/09/22/aeroflots-domestic-passengers-back-to-pre-coronavirus-levels-a71507).
On the vaccine front, President Vladimir Putin offered the United Nations supplies of the Russian vaccine, even deputies complained about the cost of over-the-counter medications in Russia. Officials said they were sure Russians could come up with the money if they have to (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/v-oon-otvetili-na-predlozhenie-putina-besplatnoy-vaktsiny-ot-covid/ and https://regnum.ru/news/3069734.html).
Moscow has approved for clinical trials another coronavirus vaccine (regnum.ru/news/3069734.html), while those behind the first, Sputnik 5, concede that they have tested fewer than 10 percent of the number of people usually required in a third-stage trial and won’t complete the sequence until next summer (hkp.ru/daily/217185/4291744/ and regnum.ru/news/3070367.html).
Officials say Russia won’t reach full production of the vaccine until February 2021, thus limiting the ability of the health care system to halt the spread of the coronavirus anytime sooner (regnum.ru/news/3070044.html).
On the economic front, there were three disturbing developments: Chinese officials found coronavirus traces on packages sent from Russia, making more restrictions on bilateral trade likely (fergana.agency/news/121017/), car sales in Russia are on track to be down more than 25 percent this year (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80268), and Moscow has reached its goals for the healthcare national program in only 40 percent of the categories (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/80252).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The head of the National Medical Chamber said that ordinary Russians must be more serious about wearing masks and social distancing if the country is to overcome the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3070364.html).
· Rock musicians staged what they called “Woodstock Russian-Style” in honor of the country’s doctors for their role in fighting the coronavirus (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/09/22/87194-vudstok-po-russki).
· Economists are increasingly saying that the Russian economy will not recover until 2022 at the earliest (vz.ru/economy/2020/9/22/1061746.html).
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