One million cases of COVID-19 in Russia, a quarter are hospitalized

Backed by a fourth deadly wave, the Russian federation is suffering the most significant attack from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. Echoes of Moscow.

A quarter of a million hospitalized patients, death records, hospitals overwhelmed – an outbreak of COVID-19 cases is sweeping the country, as President Vladimir Putin prepares to put millions of workers on forced leave to stem this fourth wave. Dr. Guzel Ulumbekova, director of the Russian Higher School of Health Organization and Management, located in Moscow, describes the situation.

“Today we have more than a million people infected with the coronavirus throughout the country, of which more than 250,000 are hospitalized. In total, more than 600,000 doctors and nurses work with these patients (according to data from the Russian Ministry of Health). Before this wave, the incidence did not exceed 23,000 cases per day (November 2020), but today we have more than 34,000 cases per day ”, he explained to Le Devoir. By comparison, the United States, which has 186 million more people, peaked at 98,000 hospitalizations in mid-September.

According to Dr. Ulumbekova, the current situation is putting enormous pressure on the Russian healthcare system and delaying the treatment of patients with other chronic diseases.

With a daily record of 1,023 deaths and 34,000 infections recorded on Wednesday, the current wave has reached an unmatched threshold since the start of the pandemic. According to the Moscow Times, the healthcare system is approaching saturation point, with 87% of available COVID-19 beds occupied. In the Saratov region, more than 700 kilometers southeast of Moscow, several overwhelmed hospitals have had to return patients in corridors, Oleg Kostin, the region’s health minister, said on Wednesday.

The severity of the current wave is closely related to the fact that less than a third of the Russian population is adequately vaccinated. And this despite the fact that the country has four effective Russian vaccines. Dr Ulumbekova says she finds the current situation in terms of vaccination “completely incomprehensible”.

“People take this virus seriously, but I don’t understand why they don’t get vaccinated. That doesn’t make sense to me, ”he laments.

In the back of the pack

The first country that has developed a vaccine against COVID – Sputnik V – Russia has three others: CoviVax and EpiVacCorona, as well as “Sputnik Light”, which requires a single injection, explains Guzel Ulumbekova.

Regardless, the Russian federation remains at the back of the pack when it comes to vaccination and does worse than very small countries, such as Belize (where 36% of the total population is adequately vaccinated), Colombia (38%) and Thailand. (36%).

Efforts in vaccination campaigns have been too timid and insufficient, says the director of the Russian Higher School of Health Organization and Management. “Unfortunately, people still have doubts about the vaccine. There have not been enough convincing campaigns and systemic propaganda. “

To reverse the current trend, we must quickly increase the vaccination rate, implement strict health measures, such as requiring a QR code to access various public places, strictly requiring the use of masks, banning public events and imposing teleworking in certain categories. of workers, he thinks. “But this is a purely personal opinion,” he says.

Russian President Vladimir Putin took this direction on Wednesday by decreeing a national week off from October 30 to November 7, which coincides with school recess, to encourage the 144 million Russians to stay home. The Russian leader has already used “paid vacations” in the past to curb the rate of infections.

To date, 39 of the 85 Russian regions have imposed vaccination on certain workers or have introduced some type of health passport to access certain public places. On Tuesday, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin resolved to increase the number of civil servants to be vaccinated to 80%, a threshold initially set at 60%.

Heavy tribute

Always wary of vaccines, Russians are the first to pay the price. According to Dr. Ulumbekova, 90% of COVID patients hospitalized today are not vaccinated and 30% are young. “There is no shortage of equipment, but certainly a shortage of personnel,” adds the Moscow doctor.

The website reports that the death rate from COVID-19 in Russia during the last week is 6.7 per million inhabitants, three times that of the United Kingdom and about ten times that reported in countries such as Germany, France , Italy or Spain. Heavily affected, the United States has a death rate from COVID of about 5 per million inhabitants.

The toll paid by the pandemic is already weighing heavily on Russia, with more than 230,000 deaths officially recorded since March 2020, making it the most heartbroken country in Europe. More than 1,100 healthcare workers died there during the first 6 months of 2021. The Rosstat Institute, which calculates mortality linked to the coronavirus differently, puts deaths attributable to the pandemic at almost 420,000.

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