In comments to Radio Sputnik on Tuesday, immunologist Vladislav Zhemchugov said that the end was in sight for the wearing of face masks in public places. “It is already possible to take off masks on the street,” he argued, “on walks, in nature, there is little chance of infection.”
In future, he claimed, “it will be possible to completely get rid of masks when we have a layer of immunity in society approaching 60 percent in any one particular region. This will probably begin with Moscow, because there, I think, is closest to this figure.” In November, the Mayor of the Russian capital Sergey Sobyanin said that around 50 percent of those living in the city appeared to have immunity to Covid-19.
Zhemchugov added that the roll-out of vaccines against the virus as part of mass immunization programs would support this goal, in addition to the degree of infections. “I think we will reach the population vaccinated [against] and naturally acquainted with the virus by the end of spring,” he claimed.
Also on Tuesday, an expert from Russia’s Central Research Institute of Epidemiology, Natalya Pshenichnaya, said that the country may have to learn to live with lower levels of coronavirus infection for some time yet to come.
“We can’t rule out that we won’t hit coronavirus incidence rates of zero,” she said. “As with other acute respiratory viral infections, if COVID-19 keeps circulating as a seasonal infection, it won’t disappear forever even after losing its pandemic potential.”
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.8 million cases have been confirmed in Russia, although the true total is likely to be far higher. According to the latest official data, over 73,600 deaths from the virus have been recorded across the country.
Last week, Russia's Education Ministry announced that universities would resume full-time teaching in person, as the number of positive tests fell. The decision follows Moscow’s move to reopen night clubs and drop the curfews that had been imposed on bars and restaurants.
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