MOSCOW: Russia’s federal statistics agency Rosstat said Friday that nearly 75,000 people died of coronavirus in the country in October, making it the deadliest month of the entire pandemic.
The agency reported that total deaths since Russia recorded its first case stood at more than 520,000, the third-worst fatality count in the world behind the United States and Brazil.
Authorities in Moscow have been accused of downplaying the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and Rosstat’s figure — released late Friday — painted a far darker picture than official figures suggest.
The Rosstat tally was considerably higher than an official government website tracking the pandemic, which says total Covid deaths are 278,857.
Those figures only take into account fatalities where the virus was established as the primary cause of death after an autopsy.
Rosstat, however, publishes figures under a broader definition for deaths linked to the virus.
Despite repeated pleas from Russian authorities, including President Vladimir Putin, only around 40 percent of Russians are fully vaccinated.
Those efforts have been an uphill battle with polls consistently showing large sections of the Russian population are unwilling to get the jab.
Russia in August 2020 became the first country to register a coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, which has since been approved for use in dozens of countries.
After a tight first lockdown in 2020, officials in Moscow mostly refrained from introducing restrictive new measures, leaning instead on a vaccine drive to protect the struggling economy.
However in October, Russia’s deadliest month on record, Putin ordered a nationwide week-long paid holiday to curb infections and Moscow announced the closure of non-essential services for 11 days.