Staunton, December 22 – According to a new Public Opinion Foundation poll, 62 percent of Russians fear that they will be infected by the coronavirus; but 42 percent are certain that the Russian vaccine will end the pandemic in their country (regnum.ru/news/3147557.htmlregnum.ru/news/3147526.html).
Russian officials reported registering 28,776 new cases of infection over the last 24 hours and 561 new deaths over the same period (стопкоронавирус.рф/information/). But two new reports underscore why these figures understate the reality: in St. Petersburg, pneumonia cases have surged 5.7 times compared to a year ago, and in Tatarstan, doctors are not entering cause of death in questionable cases (regnum.ru/news/3147867.html and idelreal.org/a/31011900.html).
Also today, as the pandemic continued (regnum.ru/news/society/3142642.html), Prime Minister Mikhail Murashko said that 1.1 million Russians who have been infected are currently being treated or monitored, with one-fifth of them having been hospitalized (regnum.ru/news/3148292.html).
The situation in Moscow remains so serious that Mayor Sergey Sobyanin says that there is no basis for relaxing any restrictions currently in place (regnum.ru/news/3148269.html and echo.msk.ru/news/2762194-echo.html). In Daghestan, another hotspot, mosques have been closed (https://echo.msk.ru/news/2762120-echo.html); and even in Chukotka, the virus is infecting distant villages (nazaccent.ru/content/34764-v-sele-chukotskih-olenevodov-zafiksirovali-vspyshku.html).
Forty Russian regions have made December 31 a holiday in hopes of slowing the spread of the pandemic (lenta.ru/news/2020/12/22/31dek/). The Kuzbass authorities have restricted individual pickets lest they “distract attention” from the fight against the coronavirus (interfax.ru/russia/742379
Russian health officials said that more than 52,000 Russians have been vaccinated, but they said that only 1035 residents of St. Petersburg, one of the worst hotspots, had been so far (regnum.ru/news/3148298.html and regnum.ru/news/3148108.html).
Some medical experts are now talking about making vaccination obligatory (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/12/22/88479-idem-k-prinuditelnoy-vaktsinatsii). But Kremlin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Vladimir Putin would not follow US President-Elect Joe Biden’s example and have his vaccination filmed to encourage others (regnum.ru/news/3147967.html
Moscow officials say they have registered 1400 mutations of the virus in Russia but say that Russian vaccines are effective against all of them (echo.msk.ru/news/2762216-echo.html and kp.ru/daily/1712103/4342732/
bakdar.org/srednyaya-prodolzhitelnost-poiska-raboty-v-rossii-sostavila-65-mesyaca/); and economists project that Russia will face a wave of business and personal bankruptcies beginning in January (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/12/22/88478-zakryto-navsegda).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Thirty-seven percent of Russians say they fear losing their jobs and 21 percent are concerned that their employers won’t make required payments to pension funds (regnum.ru/news/3147511.html).
· VTsIOM to the surprise of no one identified “coronavirus” as the word of the year for 2020 (regnum.ru/news/3147750.html).
· Sergey Kiriyenko says that the pandemic has boosted the importance of political scientists and their analyses (ng.ru/politics/2020-12-22/100_polit22122020.html).