Russia admits COVID demise toll third-worst on this planet | Coronavirus pandemic Information
Russia announced Monday that the coronavirus death toll was more than three times higher than previously reported. This makes Russia the country with the third highest number of deaths in the world.
For months, President Vladimir Putin has been boasting of Russia’s low death rate from the virus, saying earlier this month that it did “better” job than western countries in dealing with the pandemic.
Experts including medical professionals and data scientists have been questioning official statistics for months, accusing the government of downplaying the country’s outbreak.
Russian officials admitted on Monday that this was true.
Statistics agency Rosstat said the number of deaths increased by 229,700 from January to November for all reasons compared to the previous year.
“More than 81 percent of that increase in mortality over that period was due to COVID,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, which means that around 186,000 Russians died from COVID-19 in 2020.
The data also showed that more people died in Russia in November 2020 than any other month since such data was collected 16 years ago, the Moscow news paper reported.
Musicians perform in front of a hospital to congratulate child patients on the upcoming New Year in Moscow. The country is battling an escalating second wave of COVID-19 [Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]Excessive deaths – the difference between all registered deaths in 2020 and previous years – are considered to be one of the most reliable indicators of the number of people who have died as a result of the pandemic.
While Russia has confirmed more than three million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began – the world’s fourth highest case count – it has only reported 55,265 deaths and has been criticized for only listing COVID-19 deaths where an autopsy confirmed the virus as the main cause.
Alexei Raksha, a demographer who left Rosstat in July, told AFP news agency last week that the Russian Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Consumer Health had falsified coronavirus numbers.
According to the new Rosstat figures, Russia has the third highest death toll in the world after COVID-19 after the US, where 334,618 people have died, and Brazil with 191,570 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
‘Follow the rules’
Although the country is facing an escalating second wave of infections, authorities have been reluctant to impose a nationwide lockdown for fear of causing further damage to an already ailing economy.
The government predicts the economy will contract 3.9 percent this year, while the central bank expects an even sharper decline.
During his annual year-end press conference earlier this month, Putin rejected the idea of imposing the kind of lockdown many European countries had put in place during the Christmas holidays.
“If we follow the rules and requirements of the health authorities, we don’t need locks,” he said.
While tough measures have been imposed in some major cities, in many regions authorities have limited restrictions on wearing masks in public places and reducing mass gatherings.
A member of the Russian armed forces receives the Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) vaccine against the coronavirus disease. The country is hoping for the vaccine to contain the pandemic [File: Sergey Pivovarov/Reuters]But many Russians are breaking socially distant rules and in recent weeks the country’s outbreak has overwhelmed poorly funded hospitals in the regions.
The country has set its hopes on ending the vaccination outbreak and mass roll-out of its Sputnik V-Stitch, named after the Soviet-era satellite.
The country launched the program earlier this month, vaccinating high-risk personnel between the ages of 18 and 60 without chronic diseases for the first time.
Over the weekend, people over 60 were given the green light to get the shot.
On Monday, the developer of Sputnik V, the state research center Gamaleya, announced that around 700,000 cans had been approved for domestic use so far.
However, Russia has not said how many people it has vaccinated so far, and according to recent polls by state pollster VTsIOM and the Levada Center Election Bureau, only 38 percent of Russians plan to get the shot.