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COVID-19 Deaths In Russia Surpass 800 For Fourth Straight Day As Serbia Approves Third Dose

Workers in protective suits are seen during a funeral of deceased COVID-19 patients at a cemetery in St. Petersburg last month.
Workers in protective suits are seen during a funeral of deceased COVID-19 patients at a cemetery in St. Petersburg last month.

Daily coronavirus deaths in Russia have exceeded 800 for four days straight, while many other countries continue to report setbacks in their efforts to contain the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Authorities in Russian reported 816 new fatalities in the previous 24 hours on August 15. Russia's daily tally surpassed 800 for the first time in the pandemic four days earlier and has remained at that level ever since.

Russia faced a surge of infections last month that officials have blamed on the spread of the Delta variant as new confirmed cases soared from around 9,000 a day in early June to 25,000 a day in mid-July.

New infections have since decreased slightly to about 21,000 daily this week.

Russia's state coronavirus task force has reported more than 6.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 170,499 deaths. However, independent demographers and health experts have cast doubt on the official figures, saying theauthorities are severely undercounting both the death toll and the number of overall infections.

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Rosstat, the government statistics agency, keeps a separate count from the pandemic task force and says it recorded around 315,000 deaths related to COVID-19 between April 2020 and June this year.

Officials are working to boost vaccine uptake, which has remained lower than in many Western countries despite Russia having approved four different vaccines, including Sputnik V.

Meanwhile, Serbian health authorities authorized a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for people with compromised immune systems, health workers, and anyone vaccinated more than six months ago, the country's labor minister said on August 15.

The Balkan country is facing a surge in coronavirus infections, with an average of more than 900 cases a day in the past week. It so far has vaccinated more than 50 percent of its population of around 7 million.

Labor Minister Darija Kisic Tepavcevic said health authorities would start administering the third dose of vaccines to the immuno-compromised from August 17.

"Citizens who received their shots at least six months ago may also request to receive the third dose," Kisic Tepavcevic said. She did not specify which vaccine would be used for the third dose.

Serbia is currently using COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNtech , China's Sinopharm, AstraZeneca/Oxford, and Russia's Sputnik V.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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