By Paul Goble
Vladimir Putin’s much-ballyhooed anti-coronavirus vaccine, “Sputnik-5,’ only today received government approval for the third stage of testing that is normally required even in Russia before any proposed vaccine can be used on the population as a whole (ia-centr.ru/experts/iats-mgu/logunov-o-rossiyskoy-vaktsine-ot-covid-19-rezultat-raboty-desyatkov-let/).
But despite that, some Russian officials say they have been vaccinated (znak.com/2020-08-25/istochnik_mer_moskvy_sergey_sobyanin_postavil_sebe_privivku_ot_koronavirusa), and others are announcing that the vaccine will begin to be available at hospitals and clinics in the Russian capital in only two weeks (regnum.ru/news/3045627.html).
Also today, the Russian health ministry registered the dry form of the vaccine that may be combined with water in order to be injected in the regular way (znak.com/2020-08-26/minzdrav_zaregistriroval_suhuyu_formu_vakciny_ot_covid_19 ). But Russian virus specialists say that the vaccine even if it proves effective won’t be enough to end the pandemic (business-gazeta.ru/article/478747).
The central government registered 4696 new cases of infection, bringing that metric to 966,189, and 120 new lethal outcomes boosting that measure for the pandemic as a whole to 16,568 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1355).
Meanwhile, the pandemic continued to ebb and flow across the country with openings and closings following (regnum.ru/news/society/3040080.html).
Some members of the Duma have proposed delaying the opening of school to the end of the year or longer, but pro-Kremlin deputies and Russian executive branch officials argue that there is no reason to do so (regnum.ru/news/3044909.html, regnum.ru/news/3045238.html, sovsekretno.ru/news/v-gosdume-predlozhili-perenesti-nachalo-uchebnogo-goda/, rosbalt.ru/moscow/2020/08/25/1860308.html and lenta.ru/news/2020/08/25/obrazovanie/).
On the economic front, three out of four people who worked from home say their productivity went up (rbc.ru/society/25/08/2020/5f440e2d9a7947ff84970495?from=column_4). The number of job openings with distance work rose to 2.5 times in July what it had been in the same month a year earlier (regnum.ru/news/3044824.html).
Russians are borrowing more on their credit cards to maintain their standard of living. At present, 72 percent of households owe money to banks, the highest share ever since records began to be kept (finanz.ru/novosti/lichnyye-finansy/v-kreditakh-uvyazli-bolee-70percent-rossiyskikh-semey-1029530367).
Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments in Russia today,
- The health ministry acknowledged that it is not collecting any data on rates of re-infection even though anecdotal evidence suggests there may be many such cases (regnum.ru/news/3045287.html).
- Russian epidemiologists are now studying bats to see if they play a role in the transmission of the coronavirus (rospotrebnadzor.ru/about/info/predpr/news_predpr.php?ELEMENT_ID=15233).
- Divorces spiked in Russia after the forced isolation both because of pent-up demand and because of tensions arising from enforced closeness (iz.ru/1052284/anna-kaledina/po-krainim-meram-pochemu-v-iiune-v-rossii-vyroslo-chislo-razvodov).