Kremlin blames record COVID-19 deaths on slow vaccination rate

FILE PHOTO: Hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Moscow
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MOSCOW (Reuters) -Russia reported 895 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, the most recorded in a single day since the pandemic began, with the Kremlin blaming the slow pace of vaccinations and a more virulent virus.

Cases are rising after a third wave over the summer and officials are considering bringing back safety restrictions, although they say a Moscow lockdown is not being looked at.

The coronavirus task force reported 25,110 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. The record daily death toll is Russia's sixth in recent weeks.

"The numbers are really very bad, and this is indeed a cause for concern. The main reason is the insufficient level of vaccination," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

"The virus is getting more virulent... As a rule, those who have not been vaccinated are severely ill and unfortunately die," he told reporters on a conference call.

Russia has administered both shots of a coronavirus vaccine to 42.2 million people and needs to inoculate 35.9 million more to reach collective immunity, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said.

Around 7.6 million people need booster shots, she said during a televised government meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin.

Russia, which has a population of over 142 million, has approved four domestically-made vaccines for use.

Vaccine hesitancy has hampered the inoculation drive. Russians often cite a general fear of new medical products and distrust of the authorities as their reason for refusing the vaccination.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)