On 22nd December 2021 the RUIE Coordinating Council for Combatting Coronavirus held a regular meeting via videoconference.
Opening the final meeting of 2021, Andrey Guryev, member of the Bureau of the RUIE Board, Chair of the Council and CEO of PhosAgro, thanked all participants for their productive joint work.
“Over the past year, the RUIE Coordinating Council for Combatting Coronavirus has held 12 meetings on currently central and sensitive issues for the business community. We have worked on increasing the production of COVID-19 vaccines and their availability to the various regions of Russian Federation, as well as introducing new vaccines. We worked on new ways to promote vaccination against COVID-19 among workforces. We examined the reasons for the emergence of new coronavirus strains and its mutations at different stages of the pandemic and discussed in detail its impact on different areas of the economy. We studied and implemented successful international practices to combat infection,” said Andrey Guryev.
“I would like to thank the heads of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Rospotrebnadzor, and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions for their active participation in our meetings. We developed a very close cooperation. We are heard, and this is very important,” concluded Andrey Guryev.
Summing up the results of the cooperation between business and state structures, Anna Popova, Head of Rospotrebnadzor, noted that “the best results in protecting health were found at companies that integrated measures against coronavirus from the very beginning of pandemic, maintaining preventative steps while carrying out the mass vaccination of personnel together with the state.”
Anna Popova identified the primary shared goal of the RUIE and Rospotrebnadzor as preserving the lives and health of citizens while continuing to develop the country's economy and its industrial potential.
Describing the current epidemiological situation, the Head of Rospotrebnadzor noted that the coronavirus infection is becoming distinctly seasonal, which means there is a threat of a new wave of infections in spring. At the same time, achieving a collective immunity level of 50% has alleviated the average severity of the disease, while the epidemic’s plateaus have become much narrower.
Participants also discussed RNA-based vaccines. The Head of Rospotrebnadzor noted that they are effective, but are designed for a very short period of time, and that this inevitably leads to regular peaks in disease incidence.
During the meeting Anna Popova supported the proposal of the business community to establish a distinctive ‘COVID-19 free’ sign for companies that achieve a high level of immunization within their workforce, and to bring this initiative before the Public Council of Rospotrebnadzor.
Oleg Gridnev, Deputy Minister of Health of the Russian Federation, thanked the members of the Council for working together productively in the face of the enormous pressure on the health care system.
"We have discussed many issues during the year: every stage, every wave, every situation. All of you are so immersed in both the epidemiological processes and in the processes that take place in the health system; your suggestions and comments, and your influence on the situation in the industrial complex are very significant. We feel it every day," he said.
"There has been a significant reduction in morbidity (compared to peak values), but 13% of outpatients are severely ill and the fatality rate is high. Almost all seriously ill patients have either not been vaccinated, or have not completed all stages," said Oleg Gridnev, sharing the statistics.
The Deputy Minister estimated that over a week the vaccination rate had decreased by 20%. As a result, only 65% of adults have been vaccinated, which is incomparable with the rate of collective immunity in other countries. He mentioned Chukotka and the Belgorod region as regions leading in mass vaccination, also reporting on the low rates of revaccination.
Oleg Gridnev noted the continuous improvement of prevention, diagnosis and treatment methods for coronavirus based on the most up-to-date knowledge and practices. The main efforts of the federal and regional authorities, together with the active support of business, should remain focused on high rates of vaccination and achieving of collective immunity. A three-month supply of vaccines has been set up in the various regions of the Russian Federation.
In his concluding remarks, Oleg Gridnev called on the business community to refrain from holding corporate events to avoid an increase in infections, and to support the hard work of health workers in red zones by providing information.
Dmitry Scheblyakov, Head of the Gamaleya Centre Laboratory, devoted his address to the effectiveness of vector vaccines against the Delta and Omicron strains of coronavirus. According to preliminary data, Omicron is the most infectious coronavirus strain, but the disease is relatively mild in people who are already immune. Those vaccinated with vector vaccines show a smaller drop-in serum neutralising activity than those vaccinated with mRNA vaccines. He also pointed to revaccination as the most effective way to combat the Omicron strain.
The Head of the Laboratory answered questions from members of the Board about the single vaccination against COVID-19 and influenza, which also actively spreads during the winter period. Scheblyakov believes it will have a positive effect; however, it is no longer possible to conduct a full study on the question as the period for vaccinating against influenza has already passed.
Tadzio Schilling, General Director of the Association of European Businesses (AEB), followed with a presentation on the new requirements for medical examinations for foreign nationals in Russia.
He stated that the new measures have made doing business in Russia more difficult and the investment climate less attractive. Tadzio Schilling also noted the outflow of foreign staff from Russia. The AEB General Director called for a review of these regulations by the Russian Ministry of Health.
Sergey Krasilnikov, Vice President and Managing Director of the RUIE International Bilateral Cooperation Department, and Marina Moskvina, Managing Director of the RUIE Labour Market and Social Partnership Department, also spoke on this issue.
At the end of the meeting, Viktor Cherepov, RUIE Vice President and Vice Chairman of the Council, summarised the Council’s work in 2021, noting the successes of both the Council and its Working Groups.
“Over the course of the year we submitted more than 40 letters to the Russian Government with various proposals, such as mandatory vaccination and suggestions for improving draft federal laws on introducing QR codes on public transport and in public places,” said Viktor Cherepov. “None of our letters have been ignored.”
Moreover, Viktor Cherepov included proposals to hold joint meetings of the Coordinating Council with the public councils of ministries and departments, the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and United Russia’s Commission on Protecting Public Health in the working plan for 2022. He also included proposals to intensify vaccination and revaccination campaigns in the workforce and among the family members of company employees.
On behalf of the entire Council, Victor Cherepov congratulated Andrey Guryev, Chairman of the Council, member of the Bureau of the RUIE Board, CEO of PhosAgro, for being recently awarded the Order of Pirogov ‘For significant contribution to the organisation of medical care and the prevention and avoidance of the spread of the coronavirus infection’.
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