Staunton, June 7 – With the start of Putin’s war in Ukraine, both the Russian people and the Russian government declared the covid pandemic over, lifted the remaining restrictions and cut back efforts at vaccination. As a result, experts say, the country has been left defenseless against a new wave of the covid pandemic.
Not only do older strains of the virus continue to circulate, but new ones are constantly arising. And that means that in the absence of vigilance and active measures by the authorities, there is a great danger that Russia will see a new rise in infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the coming months (russian.eurasianet.org/россия-безоружна-перед-новой-волной-covid-19).
Indeed, the lack of attention to this problem or even to the pandemic as such – Moscow officials have declared the threat over as far as Russia is concerned – makes it more rather than less likely that there will be a new upsurge and that when it comes, Russian healthcare won’t be ready and will be forced to once again scramble to try to contain the threat.
Everyone from the government to independent demographers like Aleksey Raksha agrees that at present the covid threat has ebbed, but there is broad disagreement as to whether this is a real end, the government position, or a breathing space that won’t last because of mutations in the virus.
Another independent Russian healthcare expert, Aleksandr Dragan, points out that “the virus hasn’t been informed that the epidemic has ended. Today, it is spreading pratically uncontrolled because almost nowhere in the world besides China are tough anti-covid measures being taken.” And as a result, it is rapidly mutating and increasing the danger of new infections.
Even the omicron variant has now subdivided, and the delta strain continues to spread in other countries, he says; and there is every reason to think that these and other strains are already to be found in Russia even though the authorities are acting as if there is no danger. And as a result, the number of Russians getting vaccinated has fallen to almost zero.
And now Russian producers of domestic vaccines have suspended its manufacture (https://tass.ru/obschestvo/14689487) at a time when imports as a result of sanctions have become less available. In this situation, almost no one is talking about the need for additional shots or taking actions to prepare for them or their absence in the future.