Staunton, May 9 – Given current levels of infection and rates of immunization, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko says, Russia should reach herd immunity by the fall, the most optimistic thing any Moscow official could come up with about the pandemic on this Victory Day (regnum.ru/news/3264117.html).
Russian government officials announced they had registered 8419 new cases of infection and 334 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, as the pandemic continued to ebb and flow over the country, hitting major urban and port facilities hardest (t.me/COVID2019_official/2915 and regnum.ru/news/society/3258922.html).\
Moscow officials attempted to play down a report in the German media that talks with Berlin about German purchases of the Sputnik-5 vaccine have collapsed. According to those in the Russian capital, the talks continue and reports to the contrary are part of a Western disinformation campaign (regnum.ru/news/3264601.html).
They also stressed that interest in Russian vaccines, including Sputnik-Lite, continues to be strong, although they conceded that hopes Westerners would travel to Russia to get shots they couldn’t get at home haven’t worked out (regnum.ru/news/3264234.html and vedomosti.ru/society/articles/2021/05/08/868980-u-vaktsinnogo-turizma-net-perspektivi).
Even over the holidays, Russian officials in the regions are working hard to come up with schemes to get people to be immunized. In Khabarovsk Kray, they are handing out eggs to pensioners who choose to get the shots, an indication of problems far beyond just the coronavirus (sibreal.org/a/31229242.html).
And Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that despite all the demands on the government’s budget during the pandemic year, he had been able to keep spending in line and had in fact added 121 billion rubles (1.7 billion US dollars) to the government’s reserve (sobkorr.org/news/6097700850E25.html).
That may please some budget hawks in the Kremlin but it means that the government had the funds to pay for far more assistance to the population than it provided, something that will not be lost on the hard-hit Russian people.