Covid-19 in Russia in 2021
On December 2, at the seminar "Modern Demography", Ph.D., Head of the International Laboratory for Population and Health, Evgeny Andreev, presented a report on interregional differences in mortality in Russia in 2021.
Evgeny began his speech with a brief overview of the situation with changes in life expectancy (LE). In 2021, compared to 2019, life expectancy in Russia fell by 3.3 years for both sexes, by 2.7 years for men and 3.7 years for women. The magnitude of the decrease in life expectancy is higher than in all countries with reliable demographic statistics, except for Bulgaria.
Although life expectancy in Russia has been continuously increasing from 2005 to 2019, Russia still lags far behind most developed countries in terms of life expectancy. However, in his report, Evgeny decided to focus on interregional differences in life expectancy in Russia.
The drop in life expectancy in 2020-2021 varied greatly from region to region. The smallest decrease in life expectancy was observed in Primorsky Krai, the Republics of Buryatia and Tuva, and the Sakhalin Region. The largest decrease in life expectancy was concentrated in the regions of the European part of Russia: in the Lipetsk, Ryazan, Voronezh, Volgograd regions and the Republic of Karelia.
The construction of the simplest empirical regression showed a direct, almost linear relationship between the drop in life expectancy in the regions of Russia and the increase in the standardized mortality rate (SDR), that is, the greater the drop in life expectancy, the greater the increase in SDR. The overall increase in mortality in 2021 was due to both covid-related mortality and an increase in mortality from diseases of the circulatory system, acute pneumonia and other causes.
When considering individual regions, it was found that in regions where the maximum drop in life expectancy was observed (for example, in the Lipetsk region), registered covid morbidity was not the highest in Russia. Further analysis using Kendall's rank correlation coefficients and the construction of various empirical regressions led to the following conclusion. The increase in mortality in 2020-2021 compared to 2019 was higher in those regions where A) more often COVID-19 was not considered as the main cause of death of the deceased, but considered it as an important circumstance contributing to death, B) daily data on mortality from COVID-19 differed more from the state registration of deaths. In regions that tried to manipulate the diagnosis of coronavirus infection, mortality ended up being higher, and in those regions that showed truthful data, on the contrary, mortality was lower.
Preliminary results for 2022 suggest that the impact of COVID-19 on mortality in Russia has almost waned, and so has waned the focus on COVID-19 in Russia. The healthcare systems of European countries and China are still paying close attention to the prevention of coronavirus infection, including vaccination and compliance with anti-epidemic measures. Therefore, the "relaxed" attitude towards coronavirus infection in Russia and the reduction in vaccination points cause some concern about the further dynamics of morbidity and mortality.