MOSCOW (Reuters) – At least 49,389 people died in Russia in August due to the coronavirus and related causes, taking the toll to around 418,000 people since the pandemic began, state statistic service Rosstat said on Friday.
Russian authorities blame the spread of the more contagious Delta variant and a low vaccination rate for the third wave of coronavirus infections, which peaked in July.
In July, Russia saw the highest monthly coronavirus death toll of the pandemic as 51,044 people died from COVID-19 or related causes that month, the figure revised recently after the first publication.
The number reported by Rosstat exceeds the official total death toll of 214,485, published by the Russian coronavirus task force earlier on Friday.
Authorities explained the discrepancy between Rosstat and coronavirus task force data by the fact that the latter 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 August 2021 had reached 575,000 in comparison with the average mortality rate in 2015-2019.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Alison Williams)