Staunton, June 10 – Russia is in the midst of a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic not just in Moscow and St. Petersburg but in many regions across the country, with infections and hospitalizations rising, although fortunately the death rates have not gone up proportionally at least not yet (severreal.org/a/ekspert-predskazyvaet-rost-urovnya-smertnosti-ot-kovida-na-30-/31300728.html and babr24.com/msk/?IDE=215003).
Because many Russians have been infected and then recovered and because a few have gotten the vaccinations, there is some immunity to the spread of the pandemic and so it is unlikely that it will have the consequences the disease had in the fall of last year. Moreover, it appears that while the new strains are more infectious, they are less likely to cause death.
That is the good news. But the bad news is worrisome: The vaccination campaign has more or less collapsed in the face of continuing Russian resistance, and official statistics have become ever more falsified making it difficult to know just how bad the situation in reality has become, the independent experts say.
The Russian government claims that attitudes toward vaccinations are changing and that 60 percent of Russians now have a positive one, but independent experts doubt that and say that current rates of vaccination are unlikely to rise and that the country won’t reach herd immunity by this fall (regnum.ru/news/3293818.html and regnum.ru/news/3293772.html).
Today, Russian officials reported registering 11,699 new cases of infection and 383 new deaths from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours. The number of new cases has been driven up to the highest level in months by a spike of infection sin Moscow where 5245 new cases were registered, the highest since January (t.me/COVID2019_official/3037 and regnum.ru/news/society/3287593.html).
In response to the rise in the number of cases, Moscow officials have reopened special coronavirus hospitals and intensified enforcement of mask and glove restrictions, moves that have sparked public anger, but they continue to say they do not plan to move toward a lockdown or restrict access to the city from other parts of Russia (mskagency.ru/materials/3120489,
On the vaccine front, officials say Russia is producing enough vaccine to reach herd immunity inside the country but they are restricting sales of it abroad in order to defend the domestic population against the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3293775.html).
Anti-vaxxer attitudes not only continue to spread but increasingly are organized. In the Priamur region, persons unknown have been distributing leaflets urging people to avoid getting the vaccine. Officials there have not yet tracked down who is financing this effort (https://iarex.ru/articles/81339.html).
On the economic front: While many Russians have lost work or seen their hours cut, many who do have jobs are now working more than 40 hours a week, a positive development economically but one that leaves their bodies less capable of fighting off infections (ng.ru/economics/2021-06-10/1_8171_crisis.html).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· Duma deputy Gennady Onishchenko says that he cannot exclude the possibility that the COVID virus may have been produced in a laboratory (regnum.ru/news/3293415.html).
· Russia has resumed air travel to eight more countries (regnum.ru/news/3292957.html).
· And the Moscow Patriarchate reports that a total of 4950 priests, monks and other religious have been infected by the coronavirus over the course of the pandemic (credo.press/237676/).