Staunton, February 21 – A Russian healthcare expert speaking on condition of anonymity says that Moscow views its vaccine as “the new oil,” something it can earn enormous sums of money from, and thus is exporting all it can, and as a result, fewer Russians are getting inoculated than would otherwise be the case (kp.ru/daily/27243/4371099/).
Because of that export focus, he says, Russia which was the first country in the world to develop a coronavirus vaccine is falling increasingly far behind other countries in terms of the percentage of its own population which has been given the shots and is thus protected against infection.
Russian officials registered 14,185 new cases of infection and 450 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours. Both are down, but the latter was sufficient to push the cumulative death toll in the country over 80,000 (t.me/COVID2019_official/2479) as the pandemic continues to ebb and flow across it (regnum.ru/news/society/3195444.html).
On the vaccine front, Israel reportedly is prepared to purchase some of the Russian vaccine, but Slovakia has announced that it won’t (ng.ru/news/703028.html and https://rusmonitor.com/slovakiya-ne-stanet-pokupat-rossijskuyu-vakczinu-sputnik-v.html). And Russians are divided on whether their ambassador to Washington should have gotten a foreign vaccine (regnum.ru/news/3197705.html).
The share of residents of St. Petersburg who have received their vaccinations has risen to 3.96 percent, even as activists there have followed Moscow and begun to inoculate homeless people (regnum.ru/news/3197681.html and themoscowtimes.com/2021/02/21/russia-starts-giving-coronavirus-vaccine-to-homeless-a73028).
On the economic front, earnings have fallen so far over the last year that the size of pensions relative to incomes of those working has risen to the highest point since records began to be kept (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/83853). Both groups are suffering from rising inflation (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/83847 and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/83834).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The Memorial human rights organization has appealed to authorities in Kabardino-Balkaria to allow those who have died from the coronavirus in that republic to be buried according to Muslim custom rather than in caskets as officials have been requiring (kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/83787/posts/47064).
· Specialists on infectious diseases warn that bird flu may present many of the same problems that the coronavirus pandemic has (ura.news/news/1052472901).
· And healthcare experts say that the next wave of the pandemic will come not in the spring and summer but in the early fall, precisely at the time when the Duma elections are now scheduled (ura.news/news/1052472875).