Russian authorities admitted Monday that the number of fatalities from the Chinese coronavirus pandemic is three times higher than previously reported, according to the government-run statistics agency Rosstat.
The latest figures from the agency indicate that more than 186,000 Russians have died from the virus, more than three times the figure of 55,265 that officials previously reported.
Based on these latest figures, Russia has the third-highest number of fatalities worldwide, moving ahead of India and trailing only Brazil and the United States in terms of the total number of deaths. This also means that the mortality rate is far higher than the previous estimate of 144 deaths per million people.
The report from Rosstat provides clarification to the suspicions held by many health experts about Russia’s abnormally low fatality rate given the high number of infections. As of Tuesday, officials have recorded more than 3.1 million cases of the virus, the fourth-highest figure worldwide.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova, Russia’s overall mortality rate between January and November this year is 13.8 percent higher than the previous year. However, she has insisted that the government has never covered up data relating to the virus. “I would like to draw attention to the fact that over 81% of that rise in mortality which took place in that period can be attributed to Covid-19 and the effects of the virus,” she on Monday.
Russia is currently in the early stages of rolling out its Sputnik V vaccine nationwide while also selling millions of doses to countries including Venezuela, Hungary, and Argentina. However, experts have raised concerns about both the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, which was announced months before American and European candidates were cleared for use.
The country’s handling of the pandemic has also been shrouded in controversy. As well as the high number of infections and deaths, the Kremlin has also come under criticism for imposing draconian lockdown measures, failure to provide sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as the mysterious deaths of numerous individuals involved in the coronavirus effort.
Just last week, police in St. Petersburg discovered the body of a renowned scientist working on another vaccine. They determined that he died after falling out of a window, the fifth person this year to die in such a manner.