Staunton, March 26 – French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested that Russia and China have launched “a vaccine war” against the West in order to advance their political agendas, a statement that has drawn sharp and angry rejoinders from the Kremlin, Duma deputies, and commentators (kp.ru/daily/27257.5/4388068/, regnum.ru/news/3226349.html, regnum.ru/news/3226283.html and regnum.ru/news/3226253.html).
And alongside these responses have appeared Russian suggestions that it is the West that is politicizing the vaccine issue and is responsible for any international conflicts that may have arisen about the various national medications (regnum.ru/news/3226021.html and regnum.ru/news/3226049.html).
But other Russian analysts have conceded that Moscow has benefited from the attention its vaccine has received abroad, especially in countries having difficulty with securing enough medicine, and that the Sputnik-5 vaccine breakthrough has worked to Russia’s advantage (carnegie.ru/commentary/84143and regnum.ru/news/3226505.html).
Other analysts continue to point out that the Kremlin has exploited both the pandemic and the vaccine to control the domestic opposition and boost its standing with the Russian population as a whole (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=605C0C2BD060E).
The Russian government reported registering 9.167 new cases of infection bringing the cumulative total of that statistic above 4.5 million as well as 405 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours (t.me/COVID2019_official/2667). They also reported that 44 percent of Muscovites are now immune from infection or shots (regnum.ru/news/3225747.html).
Beyond the ring road, the pandemic continued to ebb and flow, with many regions struck that there have been so few cases of flu this year, the result of the defensive measures they have taken against the coronavirus, but worried that opening the border will allow new strains to enter Russia (regnum.ru/news/society/3217850.html regnum.ru/news/society/3226201.html
On the vaccine front, Moscow dispatched 9000 more doses of the medication to St. Petersburg (regnum.ru/news/3226737.html), announced there has been only a handful of infections among those who have been immunized (regnum.ru/news/3226507.html), and warned those infected early in the pandemic to get shots because their immunity from infection is likely wearing thin (business-gazeta.ru/article/503677).
On the economic front, Rabota.ru reported that in the course of the pandemic, almost one Russian in four – 23 percent – not just changed jobs but changed professions (echo.msk.ru/news/2811144-echo.html), and banks reported that the debt burden Russians are now carrying had reached a historic maximum (rbc.ru/finances/26/03/2021/605da4a99a79479a7912674f).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The number of marriages in Russia actually rose in 2019 despite the closure for many months of many registration centers, but a significant fraction of these appear to be marriages of convenience rather than love matches and were contracted to get the parties various benefits, court papers show (versia.ru/pandemiya-rezko-povysila-populyarnost-brachnyx-dogovorov-v-rossii).
· Instead of publishing its test results in an internationally recognized medical journal, the developer of the EpiVakCorona vaccine has chosen to post them in a little known Russian magazine, prompting questions about their reliability (meduza.io/feature/2021/03/26/sozdateli-epivakkorony-opublikovali-pervuyu-nauchnuyu-statyu-ne-v-lancet-a-v-maloizvestnom-rossiyskom-zhurnale-hotya-obeschali-zarubezhnyy).
· Conspiracy theories about the pandemic and the vaccine continue to swirl across Russia, with some people there convinced the virus is being spread by airplanes and others that the vaccine causes infertility (newizv.ru/news/society/26-03-2021/mify-ot-pandemii-virus-raspylyayut-s-samoletov-a-vaktsina-vyzyvaet-besplodie).