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The Repercussions of Russia’s Frenzied Vaccine Rush

MIN READJun 29, 2021 | 10:00 GMT

A medic sits in front of a vaccination center in Moscow, Russia, on May 25, 2021.

A medic sits in front of a vaccination center in Moscow, Russia, on May 25, 2021.

(DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia’s piecemeal mandatory vaccination policies will fail to rapidly contain COVID-19 infections in the country, creating political and economic volatility prior to September parliamentary elections. The public ire over the pandemic’s consequences, however, will not be enough to disrupt another victory by President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. At less than 15%, Russia’s immunization rate remains low, despite vaccines being widely available for months. If the inoculation rate continues at May’s pace, it would take until the second half of 2022 to vaccinate roughly 70% of Russia’s population. Russia will face an uphill battle as unlike much of the world, opposition to vaccines is on the rise. In April 2021, 62% of Russians said they wouldn’t get a COVID-19 shot compared with 54% in August 2020. Vaccine hesitancy in Russia can be attributed to numerous factors, including pervasive distrust of the government, lingering Soviet-era skepticism toward domestic pharmaceuticals, and the...

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