Russia’s low vaccination rate leads to record-breaking tolls

MOSCOW – After Sophia Kravetskaya was vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine last December, she became a stranger on a Moscow playground where she took her young daughter.

“When I mentioned that I volunteered for the test and I got my first shot, people started running away from me,” he said. “They believed that if you were vaccinated, the virus was inside you and you were infected.”

For Mrs. Kravetskyre, 36, the response reflects the prevailing mistrust among Russian authorities that has metastasized since the epidemic began last year. This skepticism, voters and sociologists say, is one of the main reasons why one-third of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, despite the availability of free vaccinations.

Experts say the reluctance to get vaccinated is creating a worrying producing wave. On Saturday, Russia surpassed 1,000 people in 24 hours for the first time since the epidemic began. (Less than half of the population died in Britain in the last two hours. 57 people died in Britain.) On Monday, Russia broke another record with more than 34,000 new infections in the previous 24 hours.

Of Russia’s 16 million inhabitants, only 2 million have been fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said last week, far fewer than most countries in the United States and the European Union.

But with the number of record-breaking deaths, the government has imposed a number of restrictions, and its vaccine campaign has collapsed, sociologists say, due to a combination of indifference and mistrust.

“About 100 percent of Russians do not trust the government, and the most active people are those who reject the vaccine,” said Denis Volkov, director of the Levada Center. In August, a survey found that 52% of Russians were not interested in being vaccinated.

“It’s about trust and approval on the government and the president,” he said. “Those who believe are much more willing to do it.”

Some demographic governments have questioned the veracity of the numbers reported, further damaging its credibility. Russia’s statistics agency said on Friday that more than 43,500 people had died from Kovid-1 in August, for example. But another state agency, the National Covid-1 task force, initially recorded less than 25,000 deaths that month, according to the independent Moscow Times. Inconsistencies The Russians do not know what numbers to believe.

The Kremlin is concerned about the growing number. President Vladimir V. “People believe and listen to your advice and recommendations,” Putin told lawmakers last week in a vaccination campaign.

But in a rare critique of Kremlin policy, the speaker of parliament and Putin’s aides, Piotr and Tolstoy, said, “We told you, you do it.”

“Unfortunately, we have conducted a complete information campaign about coronavirus in Russia incorrectly and completely lost,” he told a government-friendly TV station on Saturday. “There is no hope of getting vaccinated by people, that’s a fact.”

Vakkov said any new push to encourage vaccination could go a long way. The government’s initial indifference to the epidemic created a casual attitude among many Russians about the virus.

“From the beginning there was no specific message that Covid-1 is harmful,” said Mr. Vol Volkov. “This speed has been lost, and now it is very difficult to plant.”

He noted that Mr. Putin, along with influential politicians and the public, was not at the forefront of vaccination. Mr Putin was vaccinated behind closed doors in March, only to be announced in late June that he was with Sputnik V, although Russia’s health ministry approved the job in August 2020.

In general, the Kremlin’s position was that regional governors should set limits. Russia has issued some kind of order for thirty-eight government employees in 85 regions. In some cases more than 2,000 or 3,000 ceremonies have been banned.

However, restrictive mitigation measures have been avoided in most cases. In the summer, the Moscow government issued an order requiring 60 percent of service workers to be vaccinated, but critics say it has not been implemented. In August the mayor canceled a short-lived program to enter the internal venue of the QR code to provide TV because it was not very popular.

The government is reluctant to impose restrictions because they “do not want to mess with this majority of people.” Those who oppose them, said Alexandra Arkhipova, a social anthropologist who researches covid-related misinformation at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.

He said his research showed that many Russians believed that the cause of political policy concerns rather than epidemiology was political. For example, he said, restrictions were relaxed before the September parliamentary elections, which he and others ensured was a political move to ensure that the ruling United Russia party would not lose support.

“Like other problems, the coronavirus has become a tool in the political game,” said Vasily Vibert, a 33-year-old hairdresser in Moscow.

He said he believed the same policy was in effect in the summer of 2020 when restrictions were lifted before a referendum on amending the constitution, one of which was to allow Mr Putin to rule until 2036.

Ms. Arkipova suggested another possible reason for the low level of vaccination: Social responsibility has diminished in the three decades since the break-up of the Communist Soviet Union.

“The Russians are no longer collective people,” he said. “Now people have become quite individualistic, and the concept of ‘public interest’ is very difficult to explain.”

Finally, Ms. Arkhipova said, the Russians themselves are skeptical of the Sputnik V vaccine. Although 70 countries have approved Sputnik V, according to its developer Russian Direct Investment Fund, the vaccine had initial warnings due to the secret and unusually fast process of its development and approval in Russia. It is not accepted by the European Union, the United States or the World Health Organization.

“People are directly afraid of Sputnik VK, not all vaccines,” he said.

Western vaccines like Pfizer-Biotech and Modern are not available in Russia.

Ms. Kravetskaya, a designer, said she was willing to try Sputnik V because at the time her husband and daughter’s mother were considered to be at higher risk of contracting the Covid-1 contract. He also has loyal friends who work as chemists and biologists who asked him to try it. But he said he did not trust Russian authorities.

“I have high confidence in the technology used for vaccines, especially if they are Western,” he said.

Mrs Kravetskaya said some of her friends bought fake vaccine certificates instead of one of some Russian-made jabs. Chatting app Telegram channels issue fake vaccine certificates for 2000 rubles ($ 28), or 5000 rubles ($ 70) with QR codes.

Alina Lobzina contributed to the report.

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