Russia is again vulnerable to the virus, despite months of assurances from President Vladimir V. Putin’s government that the worst of the pandemic is over. The spiraling outbreak has come as a surprise even in the words of senior officials behind those assurances.
Russian virologists say That the delta version, previously found in India, is now the most popular version in Moscow. The rapidly rising number of cases put Russia at risk of following the path of other countries, such as India, which were downplaying infections only to see a resurgence.
The outbreak is highest in the capital, Moscow, where the number of cases has tripled in the past two weeks, according to city officials, who have added 5,000 beds to coronavirus wards. Moscow’s health officials tested 9,056 positive on Friday, the highest daily figure for the city since the pandemic began.
Russia has reported 125,853 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began, but figures showing a higher death rate over the past year suggest the real number is much higher.
Across Russia, only 9.9 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, although Russia claimed to be the first country in the world to approve the vaccine last summer. For comparison, 44 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.
Cases rose slowly throughout the spring, then accelerated this month. And in winter, little was done to encourage the Russians to get vaccinated.
In fact, to avoid stimulating demand at the end of last year, when vaccines were scarce, Mr Putin delayed his own vaccinations until March, although according to the age he had qualified months earlier, the Kremlin press office said. He didn’t get it on camera.
Today, even though vaccines are widely available, doubts remain. The Levada Center, a polling agency, surveyed Russian attitudes about vaccination in April and found that 62 percent did not intend to receive the Russian-made vaccine, which is available in Russia.