Staunton, March 3 – In many parts of Russia, no vaccine is available even to senior officials and groups most at risk, a situation that Moscow appears unwilling or unable to do much about even as it promotes the profitable sale of the vaccine abroad and vaccine tourism from abroad to the Russian capital (dailystorm.ru/obschestvo/nam-i-na-svoih-to-ne-hvataet-vakciny-pochemu-regiony-provalivayut-plan-po-vakcinacii-ot-koronavirusa, chita.ru/beauty/157100/, sputnikvaccine.com/rus/newsroom/pressreleases/vaktsina-sputnik-v-odobrena-v-angole-dzhibuti-i-kongo/ and svpressa.ru/society/article/291466/).
And that pattern is continuing even though numerous hotspots remain where infections are not declining as they are for the country as a whole and at a time when Moscow experts are predicting that relaxation in preventive measures may lead to a third wave of the pandemic as early as May (ura.news/news/1052474324).
Russian officials reported registered 10,535 new cases of infection, the lowest daily number since October, and 452 new deaths from the coronavirus (t.me/COVID2019_official/2543), even as some places showed increases and pressure to lift restrictions spread across the Russian Federation (regnum.ru/news/society/3202625.html).
Health minister Mikhail Murashkov acknowledged that as of now, “the coronavirus infection continues to circulate and that the virus has still not been neutralized.” As a result, he said, it is far too early to lift most restrictions even though people are suffering from pandemic fatigue (regnum.ru/news/3205079.html).
One new focus of attention in Russia as in other countries is on superspreaders, the 20 percent of the population which if infected more rapidly than anyone else spreads it to others. Indeed, some studies suggest that up to 80 percent of all infections come from this group. How Russia will deal with such people if they are identified is uncertain (kp.ru/daily/27247/4376367/).
At present, only about six percent of the Russian population has collective immunity, about one tenth of the figure needed to overcome the pandemic (versia.ru/v-rossii-zaregistrirovano-10-535-novyx-sluchaev-zarazheniya-koronavirusa-i-452-letalnyj-isxoda). But there are worrisome signs that interest in getting the vaccine is declining even in places where infections are going up (regnum.ru/news/3206019.html and regnum.ru/news/3206011.html).
One category of Russian citizens whose vaccination numbers are going up is the military. Officials reported today that the number of soldiers and sailors vaccinated now exceeds 300,000 (regnum.ru/news/3205989.html). There are increasing signs that Russians in some places are being compelled to get the shots on pain of losing their jobs (regnum.ru/news/3204926.html).
In Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov has called on Muslim leaders to promote vaccination among the faithful (regnum.ru/news/3205825.html). All this comes as experts say Russians will have to worry about getting shots for the coronavirus for a decade or two in order to overcome the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3205567.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The interior ministry reported that Moscow had organized the return of some 400,000 Russians who were abroad at the time of the pandemic’s onset and could not return using normal transportation means (regnum.ru/news/3205637.html).
· St. Petersburg opened its permanent monument to doctors there who have died from the coronavirus (echo.msk.ru/blog/day_photo/2799364-echo/).
· Ever more urban Russians who fled to the countryside to avoid becoming infected last year have adapted to their new conditions and decided not to go back to cities (iq.hse.ru/news/448522933.html).