Russia has admitted its coronavirus death toll is more than three times higher than previously reported.
New figures show that more than 186,000 Russians have died from the virus, up from the 55,265 the country officially reported.
This means that Russia has the third-highest number of fatalities, moving ahead of India and sitting behind only the US and Brazil.
Russia has reported more than three million infections since the beginning of the pandemic but its comparatively low fatality rate had raised eyebrows.
President Vladimir Putin said it was because the country had handled the pandemic so well, but others said it was partly due to the fact that an autopsy had to list COVID-19 as the main cause of death for it to be counted.
On Monday, government statistics agency Rosstat said the number of deaths from all causes between January and November had risen by 229,700 compared to the same period in the previous year, according to a report by news agency AFP.
And Russia’s deputy prime minister Tatiana Golikova said “more than 81%” of that increased mortality was due to COVID-19, meaning that more than 186,000 Russians had died from the virus in that period.
Her assessment has not yet been reflected in any of Russia’s official coronavirus tallies.
Image: Vladimir Putin has said lockdowns should not be needed if Russians follow the rules
Russia’s restrictions have been light compared with many other countries and Mr Putin has said that if people follow the rules, lockdowns like those seen in Europe will not be needed.
Like many other countries, Russia has high hopes for vaccination, particularly its Sputnik V jab, named after the Soviet satellite.
High-risk workers aged 16 to 60 without chronic illnesses were called up first when the programme began earlier in December, but people older than 60 were called up last weekend.
Reports have said that 700,000 doses have been released, although there are no official figures for how many people have been vaccinated and there are concerns about a high degree of vaccine scepticism.
Source : Sky News