November was Russia’s deadliest month of the Covid-19 pandemic, deepening a demographic crisis that President Vladimir Putin says is a threat to the country’s future.
There were a record 87,527 deaths associated with the virus last month, according to data released by the Federal Statistics Service late Thursday. That was a 16% increase over the previous month, and raised total fatalities linked to Covid-19 in Russia to more than 625,000 since the start of the pandemic.
“Life expectancy in Russia has regressed by a decade,” said Vera Karpova, a demographer at Moscow State University who estimates Covid-19 has cut more than three years off the average lifespan to under 70. “The last time life expectancy was 70 was in 2012.”
Russia had a record number of cases last month amid a stubbornly low vaccination rate, despite the widespread availability of a free domestic vaccine. That’s even before officials have reported any significant presence in Russia of the far more infectious omicron variant of Covid-19, which has surged through the U.S. and Europe and prompted some governments to restore social restrictions.
About 62% of Russians have collective immunity either from an inoculation or by recovering from the virus, according to the government’s Covid-19 reporting center.