Staunton, November 23 – Ever more Russian officials are expressing the hope that the Sputnik-5 vaccine will be a major moneymaker for the country, with some now even describing it as “the new oil,” something that will help the country’s economy recover in the coming years (vz.ru/economy/2020/11/23/1072006.html and ehorussia.com/new/node/22198).
Such hopes come as the statistics from the pandemic’s spread remain dire. For the first time ever, the Russian authorities registered more than 25,000 new cases in one day (25,173) bringing the cumulative total to 2,114,502. They also reported that there were 361 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, upping that toll to 36,540 (t.me/COVID2019_official/2036).
Ever more evidence is coming in that these figures significantly understate the problem. A Mediazone study suggests that there have been 120,000 coronavirus deaths in Russia so far and the undercounts reflect efforts by both regional and central authorities to portray the situation as better than it in fact is (meduza.io/feature/2020/11/23/izbytochnaya-smertnost-v-rossii-s-nachala-pandemii-sostavila-120-tysyach-chelovek-eto-v-chetyre-raza-prevyshaet-dannye-operativnogo-shtaba-o-kolichestve-smertey-ot-kovida and zona.media/article/2020/11/23/120k).
To the surprise of few, Mediazone says that Chechnya routinely provides some of the largest undercounts of any region (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/356803/). Other studies confirm both patterns (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/chislo-zarazivshikhsya-koronavirusom-rossiyan-mozhet-v-10-raz-prevyshat-ofitsialnoe-/ and idelreal.org/a/30960000.html).
The pandemic continues to spread across Russia, intensifying in ever more places (regnum.ru/news/society/3116623.html and regnum.ru/news/society/3122025.html). Moscow plans to send another 80 billion rubles (1.1 billion US dollars) to the regional governments and has asked them to follow Moscow city’s approach (regnum.ru/news/3122961.html and regnum.ru/news/3122791.html).
Perhaps indicative of where things are headed was a call by consumer affairs chief Anna Popova to make all recommendations on how to respond to the pandemic legally required especially in the economic sector (regnum.ru/news/3122868.html). Officials said they hope the vaccine will limit the need for that (regnum.ru/news/3122489.html).
On the economic front, business groups say that government anti-pandemic efforts are already undermining any possibility for the recovery of small businesses (regnum.ru/news/3122667.html). Another depressing factor is that many spheres in which people have shifted to online purchases aren’t going to return to bricks and mortar stores (regnum.ru/news/3122626.html).
The pandemic has also affected popular attitudes, leading to a sense of economic fatalism, experts say, especially because of the spread of unemployment that few see a way out of (finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/rossiyane-massovo-zakryvayut-vklady-v-bankakh-ottok-prevysil-trillion-rubley-1029830571, krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/81857 and regnum.ru/news/3122639.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Every fifth Russian favors replacing the word “lockdown” with the word “isolation” (regnum.ru/news/3122437.html).
· Cybercrime has increased by 20 to 25 percent since the start of the pandemic, computer expert Yevgeny Kaspersky says (regnum.ru/news/3122163.html).
· Infected senior officials are getting far more rapid and better treatment than ordinary Russians (versia.ru/chinovniki-lechatsya-ot-koronavirusa-ne-tak-kak-prostye-grazhdane).
· Russian officials have sent in doctors to an Evenk town that decided to isolate itself from the world (nazaccent.ru/content/34549-v-zakrytoe-na-karantin-evenkijskoe-selo.html).
· Half of the monks in the Valaam monastery are now infected with the coronavirus (ahilla.ru/polovina-bratii-valaamskogo-monastyrya-bolna-kovidom/).
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