Russia will suffer significant demographic losses due to excess mortality during the coronavirus pandemic. Taking into account the decline in the birth rate, the overall population decline will exceed the number of 600,000 people by the end of the year.
According to demographers, over the past day, 22,400 new cases of coronavirus infection were reported in the country. Another record has been set since the beginning of the pandemic - 442 people died in one day. The list of victims of the pandemic in Russia counts 33,900 names, although experts have long recommended multiplying the official data by six.
According to the Russian Statistics Agency (Rosstat), COVID-19 deaths in September increased by 25 percent compared to a month earlier. Officials say, however, that the coronavirus-caused death rate in Russia remains within normal limits.
The head of Rospotrebnadzor, the Russian Agency for Health and Consumer Rights, Anna Popova, claims that the mortality rate from the virus is only 1.7 percent. According to her, Russia has 1.97 million positive cases and almost 1.5 million recoveries. Globally, the mortality rate is higher - 3.4 percent.
Former employee of Rosstat, demographer Alexey Raksha, does not share such an opinion.
In Russia, the records were kept in such a way that the number of deaths was decreasing every year, he said. The number was decreasing until May 2020. According to him, one should take mortality reports from Rosstat and the Operational Headquarters for the Fight against Coronavirus with a pinch of salt.
The clearest indicator of what is happening is excess mortality, which, of course, has been growing steadily lately.
As a result, in 2020 more than 13 people die per every 1,000, while last year this figure was 12 people. Since the beginning of the year, mortality has increased by eight percent, while in previous years it has been gradually decreasing.
In fact, Russia deliberately underestimates mortality rates - COVID-19 mortality rates in the first place. Raksha notes that 70-80% of deaths associated with coronavirus in Russian regions remain underreported.
With the current dynamics, the natural population decline will make up 600-650 thousand people, taking into consideration the fat that since the beginning of the year it amounted to 387,000 people, Rosstat reports.
"We have already overtaken the USA, Italy, France, Belgium and, possibly, the UK. Spain is ahead of Russia, given its big losses during the first wave. In the worst case scenario, Russia will leave Spain behind in excess mortality too," Raksha says.
The difference in underreported and incorrectly reported data is catastrophic. Doctors simply put down COVID-related data in other documents while still at hospitals.
"It is curious that Kirov, Lipetsk region, or Bashkortostan, have been reporting one death a day for many (up to 21) days, which in fact already looks like complete nonsense. It is clear that the situation in those regions is much worse," the expert said.
Raksha said that mortality from coronavirus accounts for at least 80 percent of all deaths, and one ought to multiply official data on COVID-19 mortality by six to have an idea about the real state of affairs. By and large, Russia is not far from the United States in quantitative terms.