Staunton, March 1 – Sixty-four percent of Russians tell Levada Center pollsters that they believe the coronavirus was invented in a laboratory and is being used as a weapon against them. Consequently, they are reluctant to get the vaccine (levada.ru/2021/03/01/koronavirus-vaktsina-i-proishozhdenie-virusa/).
Such attitudes will make it almost impossible to achieve the levels of vaccination on a voluntary basis that epidemiologists say are required to ensure herd immunity and the end of the pandemic. Instead, many will have to get sick with some in fact dying for Russia to reach that level of immunity.
The sources of conspiracy thinking and anti-vaxxer attitudes in Russia are many and varied just as in other countries. But they are having a serious impact, keeping demand of vaccines far lower than officials had expected and hoped for (newizv.ru/news/city/01-03-2021/vopros-dnya-kto-i-pochemu-tormozit-vaktsinatsiyu-v-moskve).
Many Russians are led to anti-vaxxer attitudes by Orthodox priests (ahilla.ru/pochemu-tak-mnogo-kovid-dissidentov-v-rpts/), but even more are apparently convinced that they should not get the shots by movies and television shows (realtribune.ru/sjuzhety-o-covid-19-zahodyat-v-soznanie-cherez-filmy-pro-epidemii).
Today, as the pandemic continued to ebb and flow across Russia (regnum.ru/news/society/3195444.html and regnum.ru/news/society/3202625.html), Moscow officials reported registered 11,571 new cases of infection and 333 new deaths, both continuing the downward trend of recent days (t.me/COVID2019_official/2534).
Vladimir Putin said that Russian vaccines are effective against new strains of the virus (regnum.ru/news/3203171.html), and a government epidemiologist said that they will be effective for those who get them for a decade or longer (regnum.ru/news/3203168.html).
The Russian government said it was receiving many orders for the vaccine from Europe and is actively competing with China for the vaccine market in Central Asia (regnum.ru/news/3203559.html and stanradar.com/news/full/43589-rossija-i-kitaj-v-tsentralnoj-azii-geopolitika-i-vaktsinnaja-diplomatija-dajdzhest.html).
But in some distant parts of Russia, like Kamchatka, officials reported that they lacked sufficient amounts of the vaccine to give shots to all who want them (regnum.ru/news/3202537.html). St. Petersburg officials found violations in sanitary rules at 14 sites where shots were being administered (regnum.ru/news/3203421.html).
Russian government officials say they have administered enough shots to workers at the country’s atomic energy stations to guarantee the safe operation of those facilities (egnum.ru/news/3203123.html).
On the economic front, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced a new program of credits for businesses amounting to 7.7 billion rubles (110 million US dollars) (versia.ru/v-rossii-za-sutki-vyyavlen-11-571-novyj-sluchaj-zarazheniya-covid-19-i-333-letalnyx-isxoda). And monthly exports of oil by volume have dropped 20 percent over the last year (krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/84017).