Russia speeds up vaccination campaign amid record Covid-19 deaths

Moscow, Aug 14 (EFE).- Russia, struggling with a third wave of infections, has been experiencing consecutive record spikes in daily coronavirus-related deaths while a stalled vaccination campaign progresses with difficulties due to the reluctance of Russians.

“Russia has made two mistakes,” Larisa Popovich, director of Moscow’s Institute of Health Economics, told Efe.

“We were unable to stop the spread of the virus and defend the population, and we failed to make people aware of the importance of vaccination,” she added.

On Saturday, Russia reported 819 deaths, the highest daily death toll since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

This brings the total to 169,683 deaths, according to Russian authorities, although independent sources double or even triple the official figure.

Moscow and St Petersburg are the worst hit by the third wave, with daily deaths exceeding 100 on several occasions, but the situation has been improving in other major cities.

“In my opinion, the decrease in mortality is due to the increase in the number of vaccinated people,” said Yuri Yaroshenko, doctor from the Euromed clinic network. “People got scared. The situation in June was very sad.”

Since Russia’s vaccination campaign was launched in January, over 40 million people have received one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, 27% of the population, while 30 million have been administered the full course.

“The biggest problem is that Russians have always been skeptical of vaccines, including flu vaccines. The number of Russians who oppose vaccines has always been quite high,” Popovich added.

Experts, however, highlighted an increase in people who head to the vaccination centers to be inoculated with one of the locally developed jabs of Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona, CoviVac and Sputnik Light.

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