Staunton, December 18 – Like many governments around the world, the Russian regime has placed its hopes in coronavirus as the magic bullet that will destroy the pandemic; but up to now, relatively few Russians have received the shots, many are reluctant to get them, and some may be waiting for the new “vaccine lite” Putin talked about yesterday.
As a result, Russian health experts say the pandemic will continue well into next year and will be defeated only if mass vaccination is combined with widespread use of masks and social distancing (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/12/18/88425-to-v-zhar-to-v-holod, svpressa.ru/society/article/284933/, and https://echo.msk.ru/news/2760006-echo.html).
The pandemic continued to ebb and flow with good news in a few places balanced by bad news in others (regnum.ru/news/society/3142642.html). The Russian authorities registered 28,552 new cases of infection and 611 new deaths over the last 24 hours (t.me/COVID2019_official/2203).
Other numbers of note: The coefficient of distribution of the infection rose in Moscow to 0.92 and in Russia as a whole to 0.98 (regnum.ru/news/3145260.html), and Russian officials reported those hospitalized with the coronavirus were three times as likely to die as those with the flu (rusmonitor.com/smertnost-ot-covid-19-sredi-gospitalizirovannyh-paczientov-v-3-raza-vyshe-smertnosti-ot-grippa.html).
The authorities in St. Petersburg said that conditions did not allow them to soften restrictions but do not require that the city go into a lockdown as many had feared (regnum.ru/news/3145402.html), and doctors in closed cities in Chelyabinsk Oblast began being inoculated (regnum.ru/news/3145618.html).
The Kremlin sought to quash rumors that scientists were working on a special vaccine for Vladimir Putin alone. He will get the same inoculation as everyone else, his press spokesman said (kp.ru/online/news/4123868/).
On the economic front, Novaya gazeta reported that the pandemic had left 1.5 million Russians without work and closed hundreds of thousands of enterprises. The Moscow paper said that there still was no improvement in sight (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2020/12/18/88430-krah-i-nenavist).
That figure was in conflict with numbers reported by Rosstat that suggested unemployment in Russia had declined for the last three months (vtimes.io/2020/12/18/rosstat-v-rossii-sokratilsya-uroven-bezrabotitsi-a2105).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Yet another study concluded that excess deaths from the coronavirus explain only a relatively small portion of the increased excess deaths among Russians from all causes this year over last (nakanune.ru/articles/116600/).
· Responding to Moscow’s decision to block the importation of Azerbaijani tomatoes, Baku has closed the border with Russia until March 1, citing the coronavirus (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/iz-za-koronavirusa-azerbaydzhan-zakryl-granitsu-s-rossiey-do-1-marta/).
· And the St. Petersburg restauranteurs who created a resistance map of places that were refusing to restrict their operations as the city required have taken that site down (capost.media/news/ekonomika/dubinki-vmesto-dialoga-v-pitere-zakrylas-karta-soprotivleniya-restoratorov/).
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