Tuesday, February 9, 2021

To Boost Foreign Sales, Moscow Selling Coronavirus Vaccine for Less Abroad than at Home

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 8 – Most Russians are not having to pay for the Sputnik-5 vaccine but those who do and those state agencies that must pay for it before dispensing it are paying higher prices than Moscow is charging foreign customers, reflecting Russian efforts to gain market share abroad (versia.ru/vakcina-sputnik-v-obxoditsya-rossiyanam-dorozhe-chem-inostrancam).

            Because the decision-making on this process is anything but transparent, it is not clear whether Russians are having to pay more than they should or Moscow is engaging in illegal subsidies for exports. But this report is undoubtedly infuriating many Russians who are likely to feel that it is one more case in which the Kremlin cares more about foreigners than about them.

            Today, Russian officials registered 15,916 new cases of infection and 407 new deaths from the coronavirus, both figures the lowest since October and November respectively  (t.me/COVID2019_official/2454, echo.msk.ru/news/2787124-echo.html and echo.msk.ru/news/2787134-echo.html).

            The defense ministry reported that in the course of the pandemic, “more than 29,000” of its soldiers and staff have been infected with the coronavirus. As usual, it did not say how many had died or been left in the status of invalids (regnum.ru/news/3185513.html).

            Rosstat, the state statistical committee, reported figures for the entire year of 2020. It said Russia has suffered 324,000 deaths, 18 percent more than a year earlier but that the coronavirus had been responsible for only 86,498 (regnum.ru/news/3185458.html and regnum.ru/news/3185447.html). It also said that 25980 of these coronavirus deaths had come in December, the deadliest month of the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3185427.html).

            Evaluating the path of the pandemic is complicated by the fact that sometimes, as in St. Petersburg, the various measures of its impact point in different directions, with infections falling and deaths increasing (regnum.ru/news/society/3182472.html and  regnum.ru/news/3185514.html).  Policies announced in Moscow aren’t always carried through elsewhere: Thus, the central government says higher educational institutions have all gone back to face-to-face instruction but even in the northern capital, 20 of them have not (regnum.ru/news/3184745.html).

            Moscow officials said that among the regions where pandemic numbers are more than twice as bad as the all-Russian average are St. Petersburg, Karelia, and Kalmykia while they are much better than the average in Tatarstan and Krasnodar Kray (rbc.ru/society/08/02/2021/602141789a79470e3619a96e?from=from_main_4).

            On the vaccine front, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golkova said Russia had produced more than 8.6 million doses of the medication and that 5.5 million of these have now been distributed for use (regnum.ru/news/3185380.html). She added that restrictions would not all be lifted until 68.6 million Russians are vaccinated, a figure she expects the country to reach this summer (newizv.ru/news/society/08-02-2021/kovid-ogranicheniya-budut-ostavatsya-v-sile-poka-privivki-ne-sdelayut-60-mln-rossiyan).

            On the economic front, experts say that the crisis has led to an expansion in cooperation between the government and business because the latter needs so much government assistance (vedomosti.ru/economics/articles/2021/02/07/856990-pandemiya-sblizila).  They also indicate that the pandemic is not the only reason migrant workers are returning home and thus many may not return after the pandemic ends (regnum.ru/news/3185336.html).

            The economic development ministry says that it expects more workers to be dismissed from their jobs in services and the hospitality industry and is making plans to provide them with additional support (ura.news/news/1052470819). But the government is not keeping pace with inflation as far as f feeding school pupils is concerned (http://krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/83553).

            Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,

·         The health ministry and Sechenov University have announced plans to put up a monument to healthcare workers who helped fight the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3185099.html).

·         Inmates in a Sverdlovsk prison camp have produced a video clip promoting vaccinations. It reportedly has gone viral (regnum.ru/news/3185084.html).

·         When restrictions are finally lifted, analysts say, there may be an explosion of protests because of built-up anger about many things over the course of the pandemic (vtimes.io/2021/02/08/econs-epidemii-a3029 and ura.news/news/1052470817).

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