Staunton, May 1 – The Russian government has shown far greater concern in promoting sales of its vaccine abroad than on expanding its availability inside Russia, a new study finds. In Russia’s major cities, the vaccine is widely available; but in many places, there are shortages or none at all (dw.com/ru/kommentarij-paradoksy-rossijskoj-vakcinacii/a-57366214).
But even where the vaccine is available in Russia, there is now an alarming rise in the number of infections. Today, almost half of the 9270 new infections registered in the last 24 hours came from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Moscow Oblast alone, with 3208, 737, and 649 cases respectively (t.me/COVID2019_official/2875).
Officials, worried that the long holidays Vladimir Putin has ordered will make things worse, have started a campaign to get people to wear masks and maintain social distancing and even to stay in their homes under the slogan “the coronavirus doesn’t take a holiday” (regnum.ru/news/society/3258922.html).
Also worrying is the fact that Rosstat reports there have been 460,000 excess deaths in Russia since the start of the pandemic, far more than the government’s coronavirus monitoring center has reported as victims of the pandemic (110,000). Fortunately, the monthly totals are declining to expected levels (rosstat.gov.ru/storage/mediabank/aidA9DmD/edn03-2021.htm).
Russian sales of the vaccine to those former Soviet republics which have close relations with Moscow (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) continue strong because people there, Moscow says, “trust Russian vaccines more” than those produced elsewhere (kp.ru/daily/27271/4406334/).
One interesting development: At a time when Moscow is dividing the countries of the world into friends and enemies of Russia, Russians instead are dividing them into those which are “sick” and those which are “healthy,” because Russians are most worried about whether they can travel to any particular place (rosbalt.ru/world/2021/05/01/1900114.html).