Russia on Thursday saw a record number of daily coronavirus fatalities for the third day in a row, with 672 lives lost over the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 135,886.

The daily rise in COVID-19 cases was also the highest since Jan.17, Russia’s emergency task force said in a daily report. A total of 23,543 people contracted the virus over the last 24 hours, bringing the overall count to 5.53 million and the active cases to 384,935.

Meanwhile, with 16,928 recoveries recorded since yesterday, the number of recoveries in Russia exceeded 5 million.

But the situation in Moscow did not see any improvement, with 7,597 new cases in the capital, more than yesterday.

Moscow on Thursday launched a renewed vaccination drive.

Russian officials have blamed the worsening figures on the spread of the virus’ Delta variant, which is more contagious, aggressive, and difficult to treat. The Delta Plus strain has also been found in Russia, officials announced on Tuesday.

Low vaccination rates have also taken their toll, with only about 11.8% of the Russian population having gotten shots to date.

Russia would need to see over 88 million people vaccinated to achieve collective immunity, but authorities do not see this as achievable by fall.

Since December 2019, the pandemic has claimed over 3.94 million lives in 192 countries and regions, with more than 182.21 million cases reported worldwide, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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