Staunton, December 19 – Kremlin press spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that criticism of Russia’s Sputnik-5 vaccine by foreigners is not based on any facts but rather is part of a campaign by them to gain a competitive advantage for their national vaccines. Russians should thus ignore these critiques (regnum.ru/news/3145970.html).
Today, the Russian office that registers coronavirus cases reported 585 new deaths, pushing the total for the pandemic above 50,000 to 50,347. It also reported that there were 28,209 new cases of infection (t.me/COVID2019_official/2209). More worrisome, it said mortality rates from the disease are on the rise in Russia, to 1.79 percent (themoscowtimes.com/2020/12/20/coronavirus-in-russia-the-latest-news-dec-19-a69117).
The pandemic continued to ebb and flow with deteriorations more widespread than improvements and new restrictions more frequent than any loosening up (regnum.ru/news/society/3142642.html). Officials in St. Petersburg, for example, said there were no reasons to drop any of their draconian limitations (regnum.ru/news/3145916.html).
Police raids on bars and restaurants suspected of violating restrictions of one kind or another continued. One, against a popular bar in Moscow, found it to be full beyond capacity after hours, something that attracted widespread attention (t.me/COVID2019_official/2212).
One problem unique to Russia is that the third stage of testing of the vaccine is going on at the same time people are being given it. That has created confusion with some of those getting a placebo as part of the test operating on the assumption that they in fact have been inoculated (regnum.ru/news/3145960.html).
Health officials said they expected to inoculate about 60 percent of the population, while producers of the vaccine said they expected some 70 to 80 percent to be given the shots so that the pandemic can be brought under control (regnum.ru/news/3145947.html and versia.ru/za-sutki-v-rf-zafiksirovano-28209-sluchaev-zabolevaniya-codiv-19-i-585-smertej).
But despite the rollout in Moscow and the addition of new categories of people allowed to get the shots there, most places in Russia have not had more than a few people inoculated. St. Petersburg officials says that there mass vaccinations of the kind already seen in Moscow won’t happen until sometime in 2021 (regnum.ru/news/3145895.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The Russian health minister insisted that the country has sufficient pharmaceutical capacity to produce all the vaccines it needs to give shots to 60 percent of the population (tass.ru/ekonomika/10301921).
· The 60 percent figure may reflect that domestic capacity, and other health officials say those who have recovered from an infection do not need to get the shots for some time as they have immunity for six to ten months (znak.com/2020-12-19/minzdrav_planiruet_privit_ot_koronavirusa_60_rossiyan).
· Among the small businesses hardest hit by the pandemic are bookstores. In many places where there had been only one bookseller left, now there are none despite the fact that Russians facing restrictions may be reading more (iarex.ru/articles/78915.html).