MOSCOW (Reuters) – At least 44,265 people died in Russia in September due to the coronavirus and related causes, taking the toll to around 462,000 since the pandemic began, state statistics service Rosstat said on Friday.
The figure was down from a peak of 51,044 in July, although infections and fatalities began to surge again in the second half of September and have repeatedly touched record levels this month, leading authorities to reintroduce stricter health restrictions.
The overall COVID-19 death toll reported by Rosstat is almost double the figure of 236,220 published by the Russian coronavirus task force earlier on Friday.
Authorities explain the discrepancy by the fact that the task force reports deaths from COVID-19 on a daily basis that do not need additional confirmation from medical examiners, whereas Rosstat publishes full data on a monthly basis.
Some epidemiologists say that measuring excess mortality is the best way to assess the death toll during a pandemic.
Based on the new data, Reuters calculated that the number of excess deaths in Russia between April 2020 and September 2021 was more than 632,000 in comparison with the average mortality rate in 2015-2019.
Authorities have blamed the latest surge on the more virulent Delta variant and on popular reluctance to take up the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov and Andrey Ostroukh; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)