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2 Mar, 2021 09:28

With Covid-19 case numbers tumbling & millions vaccinated, Russian Deputy PM Golikova predicts ‘herd immunity’ by end of summer

With Covid-19 case numbers tumbling & millions vaccinated, Russian Deputy PM Golikova predicts ‘herd immunity’ by end of summer

If the current Covid-19 vaccination rates are maintained, there will be collective immunity in Russia by August, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova has predicted, while making it clear the pandemic is still “quite serious.”

Speaking in an interview with news network TASS, published Tuesday, Golikova revealed that the government is planning to reach 60 percent collective immunity – one of the prerequisites for removing all pandemic-related restrictions.

“In order to determine the final date of achieving collective immunity, we have developed an epidemiological and mathematical model,” Golikova said. “If vaccination is carried out at the same pace as it is now, and the number of vaccination points remains the same, then the country will achieve collective immunity in August 2021.”

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The deputy prime minister also noted that the number of detected cases is slowly declining, after a peak in late December. On Tuesday, the official Covid-19 HQ reported 10,565 new daily instances of coronavirus – a steep drop from the 29,935 figure of just over two months ago.

“The numbers of new cases of coronavirus infection are still quite serious, although reassuringly decreasing,” she said. “You will remember that we decided to ease measures last May, when we were at just around this point in terms of the number of new cases.”

However, Golikova was also careful to note that viral infections spread more in winter and at the beginning of spring, meaning precautions still need to be taken. She also refused to name a date when life in Russia would get back to normal.

“Neither we nor the world has yet accumulated enough experience to understand how long the immune defense lasts,” she explained. “Of course, everyone is now relaxed and believes that Covid is going away. The situation is better now, but the virus is still not going anywhere. You need to take care of yourself and your loved ones.”

Golikova’s comments echoed those of Health Minister Mikhail Murashko in January, when he told the media of the government’s 60 percent target. At the time, he predicted that collective immunity could be reached in the first half of the year. According to MP Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s former chief sanitary doctor, it has already been achieved in Moscow.

Last week, chief epidemiologist Nikolay Briko revealed that about four million citizens have been vaccinated against Covid-19 so far. The country has two registered coronavirus vaccines currently in circulation: Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona. Sputnik V, which has 92 percent efficacy, has already been registered in 39 countries, including two in the European Union: Hungary and Slovakia.

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