Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Kremlin Promises to Overcome Mounting Vaccine Shortages in Regions

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – As ever more Russian regions make vaccination obligatory, some are facing vaccine shortages and having to curtain their efforts (regnum.ru/news/3305951.html, regnum.ru/news/3305249.html and regnum.ru/news/3305439.html). The Kremlin promises that these will soon be overcome but not said how (regnum.ru/news/3305759.html).

            Some of these shortages may reflect logistical problems or miscalculations by the authorities on how many people will actually get the shots given continuing resistance in many places. But at least some of it reflects production shortfalls and the continuing effort, albeit one denied by the authorities, to make money by selling the Russian vaccine abroad.

            At the same time, however, the shortages do suggest that the new push by the authorities is leading more Russians to seek the vaccine and that rising demand may be playing a role in producing shortages. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether Russian firms are producing enough vaccine to meet the demand.

            Today, Russian officials reported registering 20,393 new cses of infection and 601 new deaths from the coronavirus, with Moscow city and oblast accounting for more than half of these but other regions suffering significant increases as well (t.me/COVID2019_official/3148, regnum.ru/news/society/3301374.html  and regnum.ru/news/society/3305995.html).

            Hospitalizations and deaths, lagging indicators of the extent of the pandemic, are now rising, with 12 percent of all patients now under intensive care. Because the authorities are converting hospitals again to coronavirus wards, there does not appear to be a shortage of hospital beds even in the hotspots (ria.ru/20210625/gospitalizatsiya-1738650246.html,  regnum.ru/news/3305894.html and regnum.ru/news/3305904.html).

            The total number of Russians who reportedly have been vaccinated now exceeds 21 million, about 15 percent of the population. A third say they will get the shots if they are offered prizes, and many are responding to official pressure and the threat of losing their jobs now that business leaders are pressing for universal vaccination (regnum.ru/news/3305912.html, regnum.ru/news/3305320.html  and regnum.ru/news/3305984.html).

            Ever more Russian officials with ever greater support are pushing for the imposition of punishments not only against those who campaign against the shots but also against those who do not get them (regnum.ru/news/3305614.html, regnum.ru/news/3305775.html, dailystorm.ru/vlast/gubernatory-gotovy-borotsya-s-nedoveriem-rossiyan-k-vakcinacii-vmeste-s-minzdravom and  kavkazr.com/a/31325402.html).

            The systemic parties are split. United Russia, of course, follows the Kremlin and now has the support for vaccination from the LDPR. But the KPRF is opposed and even held a protest against compulsory vaccinations, which ended with arrests (kommersant.ru/doc/4877504  and dailystorm.ru/vlast/ldpr-odobryaet-vakcinaciyu-i-osuzhdaet-kommunistov).

            In addition to promoting vaccinations, the authorities are also moving to distance work for the unvaccinated, lockdowns in some regions, and enhanced enforcement of mask requirements (echo.msk.ru/blog/ssobyanin/2860802-echo/). But evidence of how serious things are came today when Berlin suspended air connections with Russia (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/germaniya-ostanavlivaet-aviasoobshchenie-s-rossiey-1030555857).


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