Russia acknowledges COVID-19 death toll is three times what was previously reported
Russian officials acknowledged on Monday that the nation’s COVID-19 death toll is in fact more than three times what had been previously reported, after months of President Vladimir Putin holding up the supposedly low fatality rate as a marker of the country’s success in battling the pandemic.
As The Guardian reported, the state-run statistics agency Rosstat said the total number of deaths between January and November from all causes had jumped by 229,700 when compared with the previous year.
“More than 81 percent of this increase in mortality over this period is due to COVID,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, which would indicated a death toll of more than 186,000 Russians, The Guardian reported. The update means Russia has the third-highest number of fatalities in the world, surpassed only by the U.S. and Brazil.
Russian officials have so far confirmed more than 3 million cases and only 55,265 deaths, The Guardian noted, a number far lower than other large impacted countries.
The newspaper reported that despite rising coronavirus numbers, the Russian government is reluctant to order another national lockdown. In his end-of-year conference, Putin said, “If we follow the rules and demands of health regulators, then we do not need any lockdowns.”
Moscow reportedly hopes to contain the virus through its vaccination program launched this month. Russia was the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine. The Russian-made vaccine, dubbed Sputnik V, showed promising results but was criticized by medical journals for having short clinical trials.
Earlier in December, Putin, 68, said he would delay taking the vaccine due to the lack of research done on people over 60. However the vaccine was approved for people over 60 this past weekend, The Guardian reported.