Russia Sees Highest Daily COVID Death Toll Amid Low Vaccination Rate, Few Restrictions

Russia's daily COVID-19 death toll again surpassed its previous record Friday as the country registered 936 new deaths, according to the state coronavirus task force. The report comes as vaccination rates in Russia remain low and the country remains resistant to tightening restrictions despite the virus' spread, the Associated Press reported.

After COVID-19 infections and deaths began seeing a sharp increase in late September, Russian authorities attributed the surge to low vaccination rates among the country's residents. By Tuesday, nearly 33 percent of Russia's population of 146 million had gotten at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Altogether, just 29 percent of Russia's residents are fully vaccinated, the AP reported.

​​Friday marked the third straight day of daily COVID-19 deaths surpassing 900 in Russia, while Wednesday was the first day throughout the entire pandemic when deaths topped that benchmark as the country recorded 929 deaths. Long lines of ambulances have been forming outside hospitals in St. Petersburg as the country's health system struggles to keep up with the surge, according to Russian media.

One ambulance crew in Vladimir, located a little more than 100 miles east of Moscow, reportedly brought one COVID patient to a government building after it was unable to find her a bed in a hospital, the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Russia Sees Record COVID Deaths Again
Russia’s daily COVID-19 death toll again surpassed its previous record Friday as the country registered 936 new deaths, while vaccination rates in the country remain low. Above, a medical worker prepares an injection of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in Gostiny Dvor in Moscow on July 13. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

Russia already has Europe's highest death toll in the pandemic over 214,000—and the authorities' conservative way of recording COVID-19 fatalities suggests the actual number could be even higher.

On Friday, the government's task force reported 27,246 new confirmed cases, just slightly less than Thursday's number of 27,550, which was the highest so far this year.

But the Kremlin has shrugged off the idea of imposing a new nationwide lockdown, delegating the power to tighten restrictions to regional authorities.

In some areas of the country, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, life remains largely normal, with businesses operating as usual and mask mandates loosely enforced.

Some regions have limited attendance at large public events and restricted access to theaters, restaurants and other places to people who have been vaccinated, recently recovered from COVID-19 or tested negative in the previous 72 hours. Critics argue, however, that these measures aren't enough to stem the surge.

In some areas, Russia's massive yet severely underfunded health care system has started to show signs of being overwhelmed by the outbreak.

Overall, Russia's coronavirus task force has registered over 7.7 million confirmed cases and 214,485 deaths. However, reports by Russia's state statistical service Rosstat that tally coronavirus-linked deaths retroactively reveal significantly higher mortality numbers.

Russian COVID Patient
​​Friday marked the third straight day of daily COVID-19 deaths surpassing 900 in Russia. Medical staff members carry a person on a wheelchair at the COVID-19 infected patients section at the Kommunarka Hospital outside Moscow on October 5. Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images