Staunton, August 15 – An increasing number of Russian experts say that the EpiVacCorona vaccine preferred by many because it is rumored to be “milder” than Sputnik-5 and not have any side effects may not be a vaccine at all but only a placebo without any capacity to generate antibodies (theins.ru/en/society/243497).
If that is confirmed, then tens of thousands of Russians who believe they have been vaccinated in fact have not; and at least some of them are going to be furious about that and furious at Vladimir Putin who has repeatedly sung the praises of this and other Russian vaccines. The consequences medical and political are potentially enormous.
Two other reports today may have similar consequences. The first, based on an analysis of the impact of the pandemic on various countries, reports that the percentage of excess deaths Russia suffered last year was far lower than comparable figures for other countries (fondsk.ru/news/2021/08/15/pandemia-i-smertnost-54245.html).
That undercuts the Russian government’s repeated claims that the excess deaths the country has been suffering can be blamed on the pandemic. At the same time, this analysis showed that many Russians who died from non-covid causes nonetheless died because the Russian medical system was incapable of coping with the large influx of patients.
And that conclusion in turn highlights something many government critics have been pointing to for some time. The rising death tolls in Russia reflect in large measure the cutbacks Putin has made in the country’s medical care system and are not likely to end even when the pandemic finally does.
The second report suggests that the pandemic is unlikely to end anytime soon. According to Yevgeny Timakov, the chief doctor of the Leader Medicine Center in Moscow, new strains of the coronavirus are likely to arise or come to Russia this fall and extend the pandemic well into 2022 (ura.news/news/1052499422).
As the pandemic continues to ebb and flow across Russia, something less easy to track on weekends because media reporting falls then, the Russian authorities reported registering 21,624 new cases of infection and 816 new deaths over the last 24 hours, the last figure being a new high (t.me/COVID2019_official/3443regnum.ru/news/society/3344522.html).
And in yet another indication of the problems the Russian healthcare system is facing because of the pandemic, especially in areas far from Moscow, Russia has been purchasing oxygen in China and sending it to parts of Siberia and the Russian Far East where supplies of it have run short (tass.ru/obschestvo/12130261).