Russia admits Covid-19 death toll is three times worse than claimed

29 December 2020, 09:30 | Updated: 29 December 2020, 11:11

Russia has admitted its Covid death toll is three times higher than initially reported
Russia has admitted its Covid death toll is three times higher than initially reported. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Russia has admitted its coronavirus death toll is three times worse than initially reported, making it the third-worst hit country on the planet.

The nation initially reported the death toll as a little over 55,000 - but this has now skyrocketed to over 186,000 after statistics of excess deaths laid bare the true figure.

The updated tally shows it now only sits behind the US and Brazil in terms of deaths.

Vladimir Putin has spent months claiming Russia had outperformed Western nations in handling the pandemic, despite Russian experts suspicion of the low death rates despite having over 3 million confirmed cases.

There had also been criticism that for Covid-19 to be listed as a cause of death, it had to be confirmed in an autopsy.

But on Monday the Rosstat statistics agency said excess deaths from all causes recorded between January and November rose by 229,700 compared with the year before.

Vladimir Putin has spent months claiming Russia had outperformed Western nations in handling the pandemic
Vladimir Putin has spent months claiming Russia had outperformed Western nations in handling the pandemic. Picture: PA

Deputy prime minister, Tatiana Golikova, said: “More than 81% of this increase in mortality over this period is due to Covid,” - meaning a further 126,000 deaths on top of what had previously been reported.

However, her estimations have yet to be included in any official tally by the Kremlin.

But despite the rising numbers and huge amount of deaths, Putin has been resisting enforcing a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

He told a press conference earlier this month: "If we follow the rules and demands of health regulators, then we do not need any lockdowns."

Russia, like many countries, has been pinning hopes on a vaccine to get society back to normal.

It began vaccinating health workers earlier this month with their Sputnik V jab, but the international community has looked on with scepticism about the effectiveness of the vaccine.

It is still undergoing the late-stage trial.

There are no official figures on how many people have been vaccinated.