Russia has admitted having the world’s third highest coronavirus death toll with more than 186,000 fatalities – more than three times higher than previously acknowledged.
President Vladimir Putin had previously claimed the country had done a ‘better’ job managing the pandemic than western countries despite some Russian experts saying the government was playing down the outbreak.
But the Rosstat statistics agency said on Monday that 186,057 people had died from coronavirus in the country between January and November – a huge jump from previously reported figures from health authorities of 55,265 deaths from the disease.
It gave no explanation for the difference, but Russia’s official figures usually come from health officials based on deaths where Covid was found to be the cause only after an autopsy.
Monday’s figures from Rosstat and Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova appeared to include all deaths linked to coronavirus.
Russian health officials have registered more than 3 million infections since the start of the pandemic, placing the country’s caseload at fourth-highest in the world.
But they have reported a much lower fatality rate than in other badly hit countries.
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova and state statistics agency Rosstat announced new figures for the number of coronavirus deaths in the country. They were more than three times higher than previously announced. Pictured: Golikova at Monday’s press conference
Russia’s main coronavirus information website had yet to update its figures to reflect Rosstat’s findings as of Tuesday morning and showed the country’s death toll as 55,827.
The new figures from Russia, which place the country behind only the United States and Brazil for coronavirus deaths, came as nations ramped up vaccination campaigns in a bid to stamp out the pandemic.
State statistics agency Rosstat said on Monday that 186,057 people had died from coronavirus in the country between January and November – a huge jump from previously reported figures from health authorities of 55,265 deaths from the disease
Russia was among the first countries to begin its vaccination campaign at the start of December, with most European nations launching theirs over the weekend in the hopes of ending the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: An elderly man in Moscow receives the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Moscow on Monday
The 10 countries with the most Covid deaths per 100,000 people
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Russia ACTUAL 3RD
Russia OFFICIAL 54TH
Source: Johns Hopkins coronavirus death figures, updated on at 11am GMT on December 29
Moscow hopes to protect a struggling national economy by avoiding a new shutdown and instead curb Russia’s outbreak by vaccinating people en masse with its Sputnik V jab.
Elsewhere, new coronavirus variants found in the United Kingdom and South Africa are forcing more countries to reimpose economically damaging restrictions in a bid to stop the variants, which are believed to spread much more quickly, from crossing borders.
The new UK strain has already spread to several European countries as well as Japan, Canada and South Korea from individuals who travelled from London.
Russia was among the first countries to begin its vaccination campaign at the start of December, with most European nations launching theirs over the weekend.
The roll-out has boosted hopes of an end to the pandemic, especially in some of the hardest-hit parts of the continent.
‘Today is a big moment when you think back to all that we have been through,’ said Isabella Palazzini, an Italian nurse in Cremona who lost three colleagues to Covid-19.
But pharmaceutical company Pfizer warned of delays to some shipments of the vaccine to eight European nations from its factory.
A ‘minor logistical issue’ meant some vaccine deliveries were ‘rescheduled’, Pfizer spokesman Andrew Widger said, but insisted the problems had been ‘resolved’.
High-profile leaders including US President-elect Joe Biden have been stepping forward to get the vaccination in public in a bid to fight scepticism over jabs developed in record time.
Spain, which said Monday that its coronavirus death toll has topped 50,000, plans to set up a registry of people who refuse to be vaccinated against the new coronavirus and share it with other European Union nations although it will not be made public, Health Minister Salvador Illa said.
Vaccination campaigns have also begun in China, Canada, Singapore and Saudi Arabia, and there is hope for another successful vaccine on the horizon.