August 2, 2021

In Russia, resurgence of Covid-19 cases due to the Delta variant

Vladimir Putin had promised that this would not be necessary. But, faced with a strong outbreak of Covid-19, with a particularly virulent Delta variant, Russia resolves to compulsory vaccination for certain categories of the population. On several occasions, the head of the Kremlin called on the population to be injected with the Sputnik V vaccine, now available in nearly 70 countries but which is encountering collective mistrust in Russia, and ruled « inopportune » any binding measure. Three other Russian vaccines are available. But the presidential appeals were unsuccessful and less than 15% of Russians started receiving injections.

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Following the example of the Moscow City Hall on Wednesday June 16, other regions have since announced compulsory vaccination. Starting with Saint Petersburg, which, host of Euro football matches, recorded a thousand cases on Monday, June 21 for the first time since February. From Sakhalin in the far east of the country to Tver in the west, a dozen regions (out of 85 in total) have launched very strict programs. Main targets: civil servants and the service sector.

Public mistrust

“Sputnik V protects against all currently known variants, including Delta”, insisted on Monday, June 21 Alexandre Guintsbourg, director of the Gamaleïa center behind the vaccine. While, in Moscow, the first criminal proceedings were launched for false vaccination certificates, the authorities warned that it would be time to stick rather than carrot. The Moscow city hall wants to impose a threshold of 60% of vaccinated in the staff of the companies concerned by August 15 – or 2 million people. Recalcitrant employees may be placed on unpaid leave. Fines imposed on companies for non-compliance will range from 50,000 to 1 million rubles (600 to 11,500 euros) – even more for repeat offenses.

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On social media, these measures hardly seem to have impressed. The Russians prefer to wait. Because the vaccination campaign, which began in December 2020, is marked by mistrust, and only a third of the population would be ready to be vaccinated. Paradoxically, it is the Russians who are the most critical of the regime of Vladimir Putin who, convinced that this protection is necessary, have the most tendency to be vaccinated while the categories usually loyal to the Kremlin have been more reluctant.

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