Russia reports record virus deaths third day in a row

A transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (UK B.1.1.7 variant), isolated from a patient sample and cultivated in cell culture. Credit: NIAID

Russia on Saturday recorded its highest daily coronavirus death toll for a third day running, as the country continues to struggle with the Delta variant amid sluggish vaccination rates.

A government tally showed 819 fatalities over the past 24 hours and 22,144 new cases.

Russia, the fourth worst-hit country in the world in terms of cases, has since mid-June been hit by a new wave of infections driven by the aggressive Delta variant.

The new figures bring Russia's total fatalities from COVID-19 to 169,683—the highest toll in Europe.

The figure only takes into account deaths where the virus was established as the primary cause of after an autopsy.

Under a broader definition for deaths linked to the coronavirus, statistics agency Rosstat said that Russia has seen more than 300,000 fatalities as of the end of June.

Authorities have faced a vaccine-sceptic population, with a poll by the independent Levada Centre this week showing that 55 percent of Russians do not plan on getting inoculated.

Moscow, the epicentre of Russia's outbreak, and a host of regions have introduced mandatory vaccination measures to speed up the country's inoculation drive, and President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly called on Russians to get vaccinated.

While Russia has three homegrown vaccines available to the population, it does not distribute any of the Western-made jabs.

As of Saturday, just over 32 million of Russia's some 146 million people had been fully vaccinated, according to the Gogov website which tallies COVID data.

Russian authorities have been accused of vastly downplaying the effects of the pandemic in the country.

© 2021 AFP

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