Staunton, March 2 – Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova says that “if current rates of vaccination continue,” Russia will have herd immunity no later than August and possibly sooner, although she admits the current situation remains “quite serious” and says that now is no time to lift most restrictions (versia.ru/v-rossii-zaregistrirovano-10-565-novyx-sluchaev-zarazheniya-koronavirusa-i-441-letalnyj-isxod, regnum.ru/news/3203828.html and regnum.ru/news/3204133.html).
But maintaining current vaccination rates will be difficult given that only 30 percent of Russians say they are willing to get the shots, according to a new Levada Center survey (echo.msk.ru/news/2798286-echo.html). Moreover, the authorities face threats both inside the country and from outside.
On the one hand, many Russians want to dispense with requirements that they wear masks (regnum.ru/news/3203922.html), and more regions are reporting shortages in the amount of vaccine they have to deliver, something that means hotspots could spread into a third wave (regnum.ru/news/3204542.html).
And on the other hand, because so many countries have not had any vaccines at all, there is a great danger that they will emerge as centers of new infections and these will spread to Russia and other more advanced countries because of the ease of transportation between the two (echo.msk.ru/news/2798918-echo.html and realtribune.ru/indiya-i-afrika-bolshoj-semerke-otkazhites-ot-patentov-na-vakcinu).
Today, Russian officials reported registering 10,565 new cases of infection and 441 new deaths from the pandemic, continuing downward trends overall despite increases in the numbers in some regions (t.me/COVID2019_official/2538 and regnum.ru/news/society/3202625.html).
One restriction that officials have now lifted, however, will make things easier for some Russians. The government has dropped its earlier recommendations governing burial of those who have died from the coronavirus after concluding that bodies do not represent a serious threat to spread the disease (kp.ru/online/news/4207013/).
Elsewhere on the vaccine front, disputes are now working their way through Russian courts between workers who believe they are free not to get vaccinated if they choose not to and employers who are required by law to provide a safe workplace for employees, something bosses say they cannot do if workers don’t get the shots (regnum.ru/news/society/3204511.html).
Russian commentators and officials continue to complain that countries which have produced their own vaccines are doing everything they can to blacken the reputation of Russia’s versions so that people in third countries will choose the Western medications over Russian ones (kp.ru/daily/27246/4375672/).
On the economic front, the share of Russians who say they have suffered economically from the pandemic doubled between September 2020 and January 2021 to 53 percent. In addition, even among those who say they haven’t, 16 percent of the total say they have become more cautious about making purchases (sovross.ru/articles/2092/51024).
One segment of the Russian economy that has been particularly hard hit is publishing. Last year, Russian printers released 20 percent fewer books and pamphlets than in 2019 (rbc.ru/technology_and_media/02/03/2021/603cf8939a79477bc8251ae4).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The defense ministry said it had given the first dose of coronavirus vaccine to 286,000 soldiers and sailors, slightly more than one quarter of all of them (regnum.ru/news/3203714.html).
· Almost a quarter of all Russians say that they will not take vacations this year, largely because they are still trying to make up for losses of income over the past 12 months (echo.msk.ru/news/2798792-echo.html).