Staunton, March 5 – The relatively slow pace of vaccination in Russia has many causes – including inadequate production, distribution problems, and the desire of Moscow to make money and gain influence by exporting more abroad than necessary, but the primary reason, experts say, is that Russians don’t trust the government regarding the safety of the vaccine.
The slow pace of vaccination in Russia, the first country to come up with a vaccine, has become a matter of increasing concern, despite Moscow’s claims the trend is improving but because of the hyping disastrous side effects in rare cases (regnum.ru/news/3208211.html, newsru.com/blog/05mar2021/vaccine.html and mk.ru/social/2021/03/05/kirilla-paralizovalo-proyavilis-chetyre-problemy-vakcin-ot-koronavirusa.html).
Today, two sets of data were released, with the second overshadowing the first. According to the first, the Russian authorities registered 11,024 new cases of coronavirus infections over the last 24 hours and 462 new deaths (t.me/COVID2019_official/2554). According to the second, released by Rosstat, those figures understate the problem even now.
The new State Statistical Administration figures show that in 2020, Russia suffered the greatest number of deaths in one year since 1945, with more than 200,000 of them the result of coronavirus infections. It did say that coronavirus deaths fell almost 20 percent from December to January (rosstat.gov.ru/folder/313/document/116200finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/smertnost-v-rossii-ustanovila-rekord-so-vtoroy-mirovoy-voyny-1030155792).
Russia appears to have plateaued this week after a period of declines in infections and deaths, with more areas reporting improvements than deteriorations. But improvements in some places are leading officials in others to feel pressured to remove restrictions, often at odds with Moscow’s directive and local conditions (regnum.ru/news/society/3202625.html and regnum.ru/news/3207728.html).
Russian officials said that approximately five million Russians have had the first of two shots, with about half that number now having had both (regnum.ru/news/3208159.htmlsovsekretno.ru/news/k-iyunyu-planiruetsya-vaktsinirovat-40-mln-grazhdan-rossii/).
Putin and his health minister disagreed on how well the vaccination program is going. The Russian president said that vaccinations have not begun in nine federal subjects, just over 10 percent of the total, while Mikhail Murashko said they have begun in all of the regions and republics of Russia (echo.msk.ru/news/2800146-echo.html).
On the economic front, the Higher School of Economics said that Russia had weathered this crisis better relative to other countries than it had in any others during the last 30 years (regnum.ru/news/3207351.html). And Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin called for Russian pharmaceutical companies to produce more vaccine so that Russia can take advantage of the popularity of Sputnik-5, now the second most popular medication of its kind (lenta.ru/news/2021/03/05/vtoroy/ and regnum.ru/news/3207700.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu says that the military has the lowest covid mortality and infection rates of any group in Russia (regnum.ru/news/3208228.html).
· The Kremlin has announced that Putin will begin making more face-to-face public appearances, a move that some believe is required if he is to send a message to officials that they must begin lifting restrictions (regnum.ru/news/3207862.html and ura.news/articles/1036282000).
· Russian analysts are focusing on the new reality that better off countries will soon be fully vaccinated while poorer ones won’t and will thus be restricted in their ability to interact internationally and considering whether that offers Moscow any suggestions for how it should use its vaccine to advance Russian foreign policy interests (realtribune.ru/vakcinalnyj-aparteid-bogatym-stranam-vse-a-bednym-nichego).