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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Refuses to Commit to Being Vaccinated Against Coronavirus


Paul Goble
            Staunton, September 9 – In a move certain to spark more concerns about the safety and reliability of the Russian vaccine and to depress the willingness of people to get it, Putin’s press spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the Kremlin leader hasn’t yet made any plans to be inoculated (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/putin-ne-stal-privivatsya-rossiyskoy-vakcinoy-ot-covid-1029572836).
            In the same briefing, Peshkov lashed out at Western criticism of the Russian vaccine as featured in The Lancet, saying that Moscow “always very negatively responds to attempts to politicize” research (regnum.ru/news/3058196.html). Russian medical experts were more restrained: they said such criticism is a normal part of science (regnum.ru/news/3057801.html).
            Today, officials announced, Moscow began the third phase of clinical trials normally required before a vaccine or other medication can be approved for use. In the Russian case, the vaccine is being given to people without that final testing, an approach that has raised questions about the medications’ safety and effectiveness (regnum.ru/news/3058209.html).
            Flu vaccinations are already beginning in Russia, but officials warn that foreign vaccines, on which Russians have relied in past years, won’t be available this year until later in the fall because of Russia’s counter-sanctions efforts (regnum.ru/news/3058593.html and  rbc.ru/society/09/09/2020/5f576ce99a7947d7b6c14bca).
            The central staff attracted attention today because for the fourth day in a row infections have increased and the mortality rate has jumped as well. In the last 24 hours, officials say that 5218 new cases were registered, bringing that total to 1,041,007 and 147 new deaths were recorded, upping that total to 18,135 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1459).
            The uptick reflects in).creased social activity in Russia, medical experts say (regnum.ru/news/3058450.html), and they add that the numbers of infections and deaths could rise in the coming weeks to where they were last spring (regnum.ru/news/3058496.html) with no serious declines until next summer (regnum.ru/news/3058496.html).
            But even more worrisome, a new study has concluded that Russia has suffered “about 60,000” deaths from the coronavirus pandemic than the 18,000 the central staff has been reporting. That conclusion is based on Rosstat statistics rather than on any model, Yevgeny Chernyshov says (nakanune.ru/news/2020/9/9/22583299/).
            Possibly for these reasons, Russians don’t accept the upbeat statements of their leaders. According to a new ROMIR poll, 64 percent do not think the pandemic has ended. Only 24 percent agree with the Kremlin that it can be spoken of in the past tense (regnum.ru/news/3057822.html).
            The pandemic is continuing with ebbs and flows and openings and closings across the country. Schools are being closed in some places, but visits to prisoners are now being allowed in others and in the few remaining places with compulsory self-isolation regimes, restrictions are being eased (regnum.ru/news/society/3057754.html, regnum.ru/news/3057818.html and regnum.ru/news/3057987.html).
            On the economic front, there were mixed messages. Moscow city officials said that the economy within the city had been “completely restored” (regnum.ru/news/3058743.html), but the government announced plans for more assistance to families whose breadwinners have lost their jobs because of the crisis (regnum.ru/news/3057886.html).
            Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
·         The Russian government is suing a company whose ventilators ignited while being used harming patients (regnum.ru/news/3058323.html).
·         Moscow has signed an agreement to send 32 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to Mexico (regnum.ru/news/3058291.html).
·         And the pandemic has claimed another victim: Putin will not hold in his direct line call in show this year because of the coronavirus (tass.ru/politika/9405553).

Window on Eurasia — New Series