Russia on Monday said that more than 186,000 people had died from the coronavirus, a much heavier toll than it has previously reported that puts the country among the world’s worst-hit.
The Rosstat statistics agency said that the number of deaths from all causes recorded between January and November had risen by 229,700 on the previous year, with 81 per cent attributable to the virus, according to an official.
“More than 81 percent of this increase in mortality over this period is due to Covid,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, meaning that 186,057 Russians have died from the 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 only reported 55,265 total deaths — a much lower fatality rate than in other badly hit countries.
Russia has been criticised for only listing Covid deaths where an autopsy confirms the virus was the main cause.
Rosstat’s figures mean Russia’s fatality total would actually be third-highest worldwide after the United States (333,140) and Brazil (191,139), according to an AFP count.
The figures came as authorities hold out against reimposing a nationwide lockdown even as the country is battered by a second wave of infections.
Authorities hope to uphold a struggling economy by avoiding a shutdown and instead coral Russia’s outbreak by vaccinating people en masse with its homemade Sputnik V jab.
While Russia has not said how many people it has vaccinated so far, the shot’s developer the state-run Gamaleya research centre said Monday that around 700,000 doses had so far been released for domestic use.
But according to recent surveys by state-run pollster VTsIOM and the Levada polling agency only 38 percent of Russians are planning to get vaccinated.