Staunton, Sept. 23 – On a day when Russia registered the most deaths from the coronavirus ever (820) and the most new infections since August 15 (21,438), figures that most experts say understate the problem, the pandemic is worsening across Russia with infections, hospitalizations and deaths all rising (t.me/COVID2019_official/3587, regnum.ru/news/society/3379238.html and regnum.ru/news/society/3369923.html).
Almost all Russian commentators are now speaking of the arrival of a fourth wave of the pandemic and not just its possible prospect, and many are becoming increasingly critical of the Russian government’s handling of the crisis and apocalyptic about the possibilities facing the country and the world in the future.
Rosbalt’s Sergey Shelin says that the Kremlin’s approach is not only ineffective but completely cynical. Other countries now recognize that they need to pursue 100 percent inoculation rather than count on a combination of recovered victims and shots. But Moscow is still counting on herd immunity from infections (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2021/09/23/1922781.html).
It isn’t going to reach 60 percent anytime soon and so will see the pandemic ebb and flow and carry off ever more Russian lives, especially as it can’t produce enough vaccine – it has now suspended production of one brand – or get enough Russians to be vaccinated to protect the country from continuing disaster (regnum.ru/news/3378761.html).
And officials aren’t prepared to take other steps such as lockdowns that might slow the spread of the disease. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today that the possibility of a new lockdown was not even being discussed in the Presidential Administration despite the worsening epidemiological situation (regnum.ru/news/3379174.html).
But as dire as Shelin’s warnings are, comments by Aleksandr Gintsburg of the Gamaley Institute which developed Sputnik-5 are much worse. He says that the experience with this pandemic suggests that humanity as a whole may not survive another onset of such a disease (vedomosti.ru/society/news/2021/09/24/888155-gintsburg-chelovechestvo-mozhet-ne-viderzhat).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
· The EU has decided, because of the pandemic, not to include Russia in the new list of countries whose citizens can again freely enter Europe (regnum.ru/news/3379556.html).
· The Kremlin has announced that more people working with Putin are infected with the coronavirus but insists that Vladimir Putin’s self-isolation is only “relative” and not absolute (regnum.ru/news/3379160.html and regnum.ru/news/3379175.html).
· Russian tour firms are offering travel to places where Russians can get foreign vaccines (dw.com/ru/v-rossii-nachali-prodavat-tury-dlja-vakcinacii-ot-covid-19-za-rubezhom/a-59260639 and gorod-812.ru/kak-privitsya-evropejskoj-vakczinoj-mozhno-s-turfirmoj-a-mozhno-i-bez/