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Russia’s daily death toll at record high as jab program stalls

hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (covid 19) in moscow
Medical specialists transport a patient outside a hospital for people infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow, Russia

Russia reported a record 1,002 deaths from coronavirus on Saturday, the first time the daily number has passed the 1,000-mark since the start of the pandemic.

New COVID-19 cases, confirmed in the past 24 hours, were at 33,208, setting a record for the fifth consecutive day, the Russian coronavirus task force said.

Russian authorities blame a slow vaccination campaign for the sharp rise of infections and deaths, which forced the health ministry this week to ask retired vaccinated medics to return to hospitals.

Russia estimates that 45% of its population may have an immunity to the novel coronavirus after receiving a vaccine or recovering from the illness, data published by the coronavirus task force on Saturday showed. In Moscow the figure is 61% and is at 64% in the region surrounding the capital.

Russia was quick to develop and launch its Sputnik V vaccine when the coronavirus pandemic struck last year, but take-up has been slow, with many Russians citing distrust of the authorities and fear of new medical products.

Only around 48 million out of 144 million Russians are fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the coronavirus task force, with 51 million having received one shot.

The latest coronavirus deaths brought the total official national death toll to 222,315, with a total 7,958,384 cases.

The Rosstat statistic service, which keeps a separate count 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 575,000 extra deaths in the same period in comparison with the average mortality rate in 2015-2019.

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