Staunton, September 24 – Russian officials say Moscow has already received orders for 1.2 billion doses of its coronavirus vaccine from 30 countries (regnum.ru/news/3072673.html), but its most important delivery might be to the US. The White House has said it is open to the use of a foreign vaccine, and a Russian commentator says Moscow could send some to Donald Trump.
If the American president was personally inoculated with the Russian coronavirus vaccine and arranged to have other Americans receive the shots as well, “Russia would have a chance to carry out the most outstanding special operation in its history,” Sergey Aksyonov says (svpressa.ru/politic/article/276699/).
That over-the-top suggestion has received little attention. Instead, Russians are focusing on the dramatic rises in infections, especially in Moscow, and the number of deaths passing 20,000. The government registered 7212 new infections today, bringing the cumulative total to 1,136,048, and 108 additional deaths (стопкоронавирус.рф/information/).
With infections up in the capital, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin is asking firms to arrange for distance learning, and officials say there may be a new lockdown of the elderly who are most at risk. Some stores have been closed and others fined (regnum.ru/news/3072552.html, snob.ru/news/mer-moskvy-sobyanin-poprosit-bolee-pyati-tysyach-kompanij-v-gorode-perevesti-sotrudnikov-na-udalennuyu-rabotu/, regnum.ru/news/3072819.html and http://www.kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5F6CD67F925FE).
Vladimir Putin for his part simultaneously said he was against new restrictions but that no regional official should led down his or her guard because the pandemic is still going on (regnum.ru/news/3072815.html). Ever more experts say Russia won’t be able to avoid new harsh measures in the future (regnum.ru/news/3072774.html).
Beyond the ring road, the pandemic continues to ebb and flow, allowing few new re-openings and requiring new closures, including the unpopular closing of classrooms and the going over to distance learning (regnum.ru/news/society/3070825.html).
With regard to the vaccine, Gameley Institute officials said they were finally beginning voluntary tests of high-risk individuals (regnum.ru/news/3072757.html). But little of the vaccine is reaching the regions – only 50 doses each, enough for the top elites but no one else (znak.com/2020-09-24/kazhdyy_region_rossii_poluchil_menshe_50_doz_vakciny_ot_koronavirusa_na_vse_naselenie).
Over-the-counter medications are also spreading across the country very slowly. They have reached government hospitals but not yet most stores outside of the Russian capital (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/09/24/87230-effekt-arbidolchika and nakanune.ru/news/2020/9/24/22584420/).
Some commentators are now saying that the pursuit of a vaccine has allowed Moscow to distract attention from its failure to address the basic economic needs of the population (mk.ru/social/2020/09/24/rossiyskuyu-vakcinu-mozhno-sravnit-s-khrushhevskoy-kukuruzoy.html). That view is likely to spread as new statistics show the much-ballyhooed economic recovery has now stalled (echo.msk.ru/blog/serpompo2018/2714261-echo/).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Officials have announced that they are creating a special data base that will recover information about all those infected, died, or treated for the coronavirus, something that may make even more Russians reluctant to get medical aid (regnum.ru/news/3072882.html).
· Stung by media reports that Moscow hasn’t paid doctors the coronavirus bonuses it promised and the prospect of an anti-Kremlin demonstration on Sunday, the health ministry said it was taking steps to send the bonuses out (novayagazeta.ru/news/2020/09/24/164491-minzdrav-otvetil-na-publikatsiyu-novoy-o-nevyplatah-medikam-koronavirusnyh-nadbavok-chast-medikov-poluchat-vyplaty).
· Rights activists have proposed measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic among prisoners, one of the groups most at risk of infection (ng.ru/politics/2020-09-24/3_7973_prisoners.html).