A senior MP from Vladimir Putin’s own party said the government has failed to convince citizens to get vaccinated, in a rare admission as the country is reporting the world’s highest number of new coronavirus deaths.
Russia on Monday reported the historic high of 34,325 new coronavirus cases and almost 1,000 deaths in one day as the country is facing the fourth wave of the pandemic with just one-third of its population vaccinated.
Russia now has the highest rate of deaths and new cases per capita in the world even though independent experts say official statistics are largely underreported.
Russia was one of the first nations to have developed a safe and effective vaccine as its Sputnik V jab showed to be 92 per cent effective in the latest trial data.
Public trust in the vaccination campaign, however, was undermined by the fact that Sputnik V was reportedly rushed through clinical trials and that the World Health Organisation still has not issued its approval for the vaccine, citing a lack of data.
Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy speaker of the lower house of Russian parliament, raised eyebrows with an unexpected observation on pro-Kremlin TV show over the weekend that the government has failed its vaccination drive.
“The state has lost an information campaign to fight coronavirus and educate people about the need to get vaccinated,” he said on a Saturday night show.
“It’s a fact. People have no trust in the vaccine. No one is answering questions about why it can cause complications and why vaccinated people can still get sick.”
Kremlin officials have also made use of the pandemic to, first, get Russians to vote for constitutional amendments last year, allowing Mr Putin to run for office again, and then declaring a “victory” over the deadly disease.
“The only thing that (authorities) need to do is to tell people the truth,” Nikolai Prokhorenko, deputy rector of the Higher School of Health Care Management, told the TV Rain channel.
“The scale of the pandemic has been underreported from the start. Russia has said several times that the infections were on the way down, that deaths were not as high as abroad, so people got the impression that the pandemic was not that bad, and some were saying it was not worse than flu.”
Several Russian regions on Monday announced mandatory vaccination for elderly people and public health workers, two regions said they were banning unvaccinated people from public places such as restaurants and gyms.