Staunton, March 12 – The myth that Russia did better in the course of the pandemic than other countries is “populist” and wrong, Academician Abel Aganbegyan says, given the further deterioration of the standard of living and the decline in life expectancy (newizv.ru/interview/12-03-2021/abel-aganbegyan-mif-o-tom-chto-my-proshli-pandemiyu-legche-drugih-eto-populizm).
Besides the obvious propagandistic reasons, the Kremlin may have two more reasons for thinking that it, if not Russia as a whole, has come out ahead in the pandemic: it is making money and gaining credit for its vaccine and it now faces fewer pension expenses given the decline in life expectancy among Russians (newsru.com/blog/12mar2021/pensii.html).
Today, as the epidemic continued to ebb and flow across the country with more places lifting restrictions than maintaining or imposing new ones, the Russian government reported 9784 new cases of infection and 486 new deaths over the last 24 hours (t.me/COVID2019_official/2591regnum.ru/news/society/3210111.html).
On the vaccine front, more Russians have received the vaccine than six weeks ago. Then, only eight percent had been vaccinated but now 18 percent have, according to the Academy of Sciences. However, the number who wanted to get vaccinated has fallen from 22 percent to 18 percent, an indication that fewer who haven’t still want to (regnum.ru/news/innovatio/3212621.html).
The Russian government announced that it was prepared to export enough vaccine to inoculate 700,000 people abroad by the end of 2021, something it expects to do by besting other offerings because of its lower price (bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-12/russia-wants-to-vaccinate-nearly-1-in-10-on-the-planet-this-year and echo.msk.ru/news/2804042-echo.html).
At the same time, the Kremlin and the Russian foreign ministry increased their criticism of what they say are Western attacks on the Russian vaccine, attacks motivated not just by commercial interests but by a desire to blacken the reputation of Russia (https://regnum.ru/news/3213657.html and https://regnum.ru/news/3213331.html).
The Kremlin did gain support for its opposition to a vaccination passport. The World Health Organization said it was opposed introducing one that would give its bearers preferences in international travel (echo.msk.ru/news/2803902-echo.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The Kremlin said that Putin’s plan to present his message to the Federal Assembly in person does not mean that he will necessarily get the vaccine before he does so (regnum.ru/news/3213438.html).
· Ever more Russians have been turning to psychologists for help during the pandemic, but experts are uncertain whether this is simply a fashion trend or a real shift in attitudes toward mental illness (iarex.ru/articles/80058.html).
· A demographer says that falling life expectancies among Russians by itself will push the country’s total population down by “more than 2.2 million people” by 2024 (kp.ru/daily/27251.5/4381021/).