After a year of moderately managed outbreaks, Russia is currently experiencing some of its worst COVID-19 outbreaks, reports Newsweek. A general hesitancy toward vaccination, the new, more infectious delta variant and delayed restrictions have contributed to rising cases, says The New York Times.

  • Out of Russia’s population of 144 million people, only 18 million people have gotten at least one vaccination dose, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Tuesday, Russia recorded 16,715 new cases — twice as many as last month, says Newsweek.

How bad are outbreaks in Russia?

The most recent wave of infections has primarily hit big cities. Moscow, the capital, has become the epicenter of the outbreaks, says The New York Times.

  • Cases have tripled in Moscow over the last two weeks, says The New York Times.
  • Tuesday, the city recorded 6,550 new cases, reports Newsweek.

Moscow’s mayor, Sergey Sobyani, announced new restrictions Tuesday. Restaurants, bars and cafes can only serve individuals who are vaccinated, contracted the virus in the last six months or tested negative within the last 72 hours, says The Hill. To validate this, all prospective customers must receive an official QR code from the government.

  • City authorities in Moscow have also mandated that public-facing workers must get vaccinated or they could lose their jobs, says Channel News Asia.
  • The new mandate and restrictions have led to a surge in black-market vaccination certificates, reports Channel News Asia.

Why are doctors refusing Russia’s vaccine?

Last August, Russia approved a domestic-made COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use, the Sputnik vaccine. Now, the country has approved four different Russian-made vaccines, reports Al Jazeera. No foreign-made vaccines are available in the country, but Russian-made vaccines are widely available.

  • The Russian government says the Sputnik vaccine is more than 90% effective, says The Daily Beast.
  • However, the Russian public has remained distrustful of the government’s vaccination approval, reports The Daily Beast.

Many Russians are concerned about the side effects and effectiveness of the vaccines. Many have opted not to get the vaccine but simply “wait and see” if their friends or family do, says The New York Times.

About 50% of Russian doctors want further evidence of the effectiveness of the Sputnik vaccine, says The Daily Beast. About 36% of doctors have refused the vaccine because of these doubts.

  • The Russian government has begun to push vaccinations with incentives, disincentives and high-profile individuals publicly giving their support, says The Daily Beast.