UPDATE 1-Daily death toll from COVID-19 in Russia hits record high as vaccination program stalls
(Add immunity levels, vaccination data)
MOSCOW, Oct. 16 (Reuters) – Russia on Saturday reported a record 1,002 deaths from the coronavirus, the first time the daily count has exceeded 1,000 since the start of the pandemic.
New cases of COVID-19, confirmed in the past 24 hours, numbered 33,208, setting a record for the fifth day in a row, the Russian Coronavirus Task Force said.
Russian authorities blame a slow vaccination campaign for the sharp rise in infections and deaths, which forced the health ministry this week to ask retired vaccinated doctors to return to hospitals.
Russia estimates that 45% of its population could be immune to the novel coronavirus after receiving a vaccine or recovering from the disease, data released by the coronavirus task force showed on Saturday. In Moscow, the figure is 61% and is 64% in the region surrounding the capital.
Russia was quick to develop and launch its Sputnik V vaccine when the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, but adoption has been slow, with many Russians citing distrust of authorities and fear of new medical products.
According to the latest data from the Coronavirus Task Force, only around 48 million out of 144 million Russians are fully vaccinated, with 51 million having received an injection.
The latest coronavirus deaths brought the official total nationwide death toll to 222,315, with a total of 7,958,384 cases.
Rosstat’s statistical service, which keeps a separate tally of coronavirus deaths, said this month that around 418,000 deaths were recorded between April 2020 and August 2021.
The excess mortality in Russia, which some epidemiologists say is the best way to measure the impact of a pandemic, reached an additional 575,000 deaths during the same period compared to the average death rate in 2015-2019. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Alex Richardson and Mike Harrison)