On 7th June 2022 a regular meeting of the RUIE Coordinating Council for Combatting Coronavirus was held.
During the meeting anti-epidemic restrictions against the backdrop of new Omicron COVID-19 strains, the status of vaccinations, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various sectors of the economy were discussed.
In addition to members of the Council, Albina Melnikova, Deputy Head of the Epidemic Surveillance Department of Rospotrebnadzor, Inna Kulikova, Director of the Emergency Medical Care and Health Risk Management Department of the Ministry of Health, and Yuri Simachev, Director of the Structural Policy Research Centre of the Higher School of Economics, and Areg Totolyan, Director of the Pasteur National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology were also present at the meeting.
Opening the meeting, Andrey Guryev, President of the Russian Fertilizer Producers Association, member of the Bureau of the RUIE Board, and Chair of the RUIE Coordinating Council Combatting Coronavirus stated that the epidemiological situation in the country had stabilised, on the basis of which Rospotrebnadzor is making timely adjustments to its anti-Covid measures.
“At the same time, the virus remains in the human population and continues to mutate; we must be fully prepared to prevent a new wave of coronavirus in the autumn-winter period, given seasonal viral respiratory diseases,” said Andrey Guryev.
He noted that, at present, alarming reports about a new wave of the pandemic are coming from Europe (Germany, Italy, France) where the number of daily registered cases is estimated in the hundreds of thousands. Cases of infection with Omicron strains BA.4 and BA.5 have already been recorded.
“We must intensify the efforts of the business community in coordination with federal and regional authorities to vaccinate and revaccinate workers and the wider population against coronavirus,” stated Andrey Guryev.
The President of the RUIE Alexander Shokhin said that the possibility of a new COVID-19 outbreak requires increased attention from health authorities.
“The mass cancellation of restrictions, which coincided with the holiday season, lead to thousands of infections in France. Our citizens returning from holidays may bring back new strains of Omicron or existing ones. All this requires increased attention from health authorities, Rospotrebnadzor, and our companies. We must be prepared for an outbreak in our country,” stated Alexander Shokhin, clarifying that the scale of the possible new outbreak will be clear by September. Albina Melnikova, Deputy Head of the Epidemic Surveillance Department of Rospotrebnadzor, noted that the incidence rate of COVID-19 today is 14.3 cases per 100,000 people. The virus is mostly spreading in a light form.
“Restrictive measures should be resumed if the situation worsens. We cannot exclude a new wave of morbidity in the near future,” said Albina Melnikova.
With the epidemiological situation stabilising, she stressed that employees must be convinced to maintain immunity and undergo vaccination.
Inna Kulikova, Director of the Emergency Medical Care and Health Risk Management Department of the Ministry of Health, noted that vaccination rates in Russia are falling.
“Vaccination rates are decreasing week by week. In June, they decreased by another 6% compared to May. 71 million people have received the initial vaccination, 20.5 million people have been revaccinated, and 2 million people have been vaccinated for a third or more times. The percentage of people vaccinated over the age of 60 is 84%,” said Inna Kulikova, mentioning that nozzles for the nasal administration of the vaccine will soon be available.
Areg Totolyan, Director of the Pasteur National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, spoke about the methodology for assessing the level of herd immunity developed by the institute.
“During the research, we came across the fact that a large percentage of people have not only post-vaccination and post-infection immunity, but also so-called hybrid immunity. Assessing hybrid immunity is the main challenge today from an immunological point of view,” said Areg Totolyan.
He elaborated on the skin test for assessing cell immunity and on the duration of protection offered by vaccination.
Igor Nechaev, member of the Council and Chair of the Board of Directors at MCC EuroChem, spoke about measures to increase vaccination and revaccination rates amongst workers against COVID-19 in industrial companies.
“While the incidence of COVID-19 is at a minimum in Russia, the incidence of new strains of COVID in Europe have grown rapidly. A new vaccination campaign will be launched as workers return from their summer holidays. This autumn we should also vaccinate workers against flu,” stressed Igor Nechaev, drawing the audience’s attention to the importance of launching a combined flu and COVID-19 vaccine.
Yuri Simachev’s report, Director of the Structural Policy Research Centre of the Higher School of Economics, focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on different sectors of the Russian economies.
The next meeting of the RUIE Coordinating Council for Combatting Coronavirus will be held in September.
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