By Paul Goble
Georgy Vikulov, a senior Moscow specialist on viral infections, says that if coronavirus infections and deaths remain at their current level or go higher over the next two weeks, the Kremlin will have no choice but to impose a new lockdown, despite the devastating economic effects that will have (ura.news/news/1052492723).
The infection and death numbers are already so high that they by themselves will devastate the economy, and so the Russian government which has always sought to balance the health of the population and the health of the economy will conclude that a new lockdown is the only way forward.
One indication that some in the capital area already thinking in those terms comes from Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov who says that the data now suggest that new and harsher measures are going to be necessary soon to break the back of the pandemic (regnum.ru/news/3312451.html).
The numbers are dire. For the fifth day in a row, infections have increased; and now they exceed all daily totals since January (natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=12495 and ehorussia.com/new/node/23807). Specifically, officials registered 25,142 new cases of infection and 663 new deaths, nearly half in Moscow and its oblast (t.me/COVID2019_official/3201).
Elsewhere around the country, the pandemic continued to intensify as vaccination rates continued to lag behind what experts say are needed to bend the curve (regnum.ru/news/society/3310819.html). One observer says attitudes about the shots are hardening, with those opposed digging in (mbk-news.appspot.com/sences/vaktsinatsiya-eto/).
But the problem is not just with attitudes. It is also with supplies of the vaccine. In Khakassia, for example, the regional authorities have made vaccinations mandatory for numerous categories of workers in the population but can’t enforce that because there is no vaccine available (realtribune.ru/hakassiya-ostalas-bez-vakciny-i-dorog-no-chinovnikam-vse-malo).
Khakass officials say that Moscow has not been able to deliver any because hot weather in the center of Russia has compromised the ability of the medical logistics system to ship vaccines at low enough temperatures. What Khakassia is acknowledging is likely true in many other regions and republics as well.