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26 Nov, 2020 20:30

Is ‘herd immunity’ the answer after all? Moscow mayor claims that HALF of city’s 12 million residents are now ‘IMMUNE’ to Covid-19

Is ‘herd immunity’ the answer after all? Moscow mayor claims that HALF of city’s 12 million residents are now ‘IMMUNE’ to Covid-19

While most of Europe’s large cities are now under strict lockdown to prevent Covid’s spread, the biggest of them all, Moscow, is an exception. Instead of shutting down bars, shops and restaurants, a lighter touch has been applied.

On Thursday, the city's mayor indicated that the strategy – a mixture of appealing to personal responsibility and ordering relatively small-scale restrictions, while also beefing up hospital capacity – seems to be working. Sergey Sobyanin told national TV that about 50 percent of Muscovites are now immune to Covid-19 infection.

"The current option for slowing down the epidemic is the restrictive measures that we are taking, and the second is population immunity, which all scientists and specialists talk about," he explained, in an interview on 'Rossiya-24.'

Research conducted in Moscow shows that about 50 percent of the population has an immune response to coronavirus: cellular immunity, antibodies, etc.

"[This] suggests that theoretically 50 percent of the population is already more or less protected from coronavirus, but no one guarantees that a second disease will not follow," Sobyanin added.

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At the same time, the mayor repeated that there are no plans to introduce a stricter lockdown in the city in the near future. The current measures, which have been extended until January 15, are far less restrictive that those imposed in comparable European cities, such as Paris and London.

For instance, while nightclubs are closed, pubs can open until 11pm. Indoor concerts are restricted to 25 percent of the venue’s capacity, and outdoor football games are allowed to admit a limited number of spectators.

In October, the virus was the leading cause of death in 2,235 people in the Russian capital, health authorities revealed, also on Thursday. That was over 300 percent more than in September, when 543 deceased were listed as having Covid-19 as the main cause of death.

While the official city population is just under 13 million, there are around 20 million people in the wider Moscow metro area. A total of approximately 13,700 deaths were recorded in the city in October, up around 3,000 on 2019.Over the past day, more than 6,000 new coronavirus cases were detected in Moscow, with 1,700 people hospitalized.

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