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Russia medical workers 16 times more likely to die from coronavirus

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  • New analysis by Russian outlet Mediazona found that healthcare workers in the country make up 7% of COVID-19 fatalities, equal to one in every 15 deaths from the virus.
  • In Iran, one of the countries hardest hit by the virus, the percentage of healthcare workers dying from COVID-19 is about 1.59%.
  • Russia now has 299,941 reported cases of COVID-19, the second-highest globally, and 2,837 deaths from the virus.
  • The study gave two possible reasons for medical workers’ high death rate: Either mortality statistics are being underestimated or the risk is unusually high because of insufficient personal protective equipment.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A new report has found at least 186 healthcare workers have died from COVID-19 in Russia, making it proportionally one of the worst-hit medical sectors in the world, if official figures are accurate.

The report was posted on May 19 by Mediazona, an online news outlet that covers human rights, legal news, and prison affairs in Russia.

It found the medical profession’s share of total deaths from COVID-19 was nearly 7%, or about one in every 15 fatalities. This was 16 times worse than a half-dozen countries with comparable numbers of COVID-19 cases, according to Mediazona.

Dr. Dmitry Cheboksarov at  Vinogradov City Clinical Hospital in Moscow on May 17, 2020.

Dr. Dmitry Cheboksarov at Vinogradov City Clinical Hospital in Moscow on May 17, 2020.

Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty


As of May 20, Russia has reported 299,941 infections, the second-most in the world after the US. There have also been 2837 COVID-19 deaths in Russia, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Journalists Maxim Litavrin, David Frenkel, Nikita Shulaev, and Anna Kozkina, based their study on the “List of Memory,” an unofficial tally of deaths that Russian medical workers have been compiling since April 25. The Russian government does not publish an official count for medical professionals.

On May 20, the Mediazona report listed 241 names, 19 more than the day before.

Two-thirds of the deaths were in Moscow and the surrounding areas, St. Petersburg, and Dagestan. “About half of the dead are junior and paramedical personnel. Most often in Russia, COVID-19 nurses die,” Mediazona reported.

The country with the next highest rate was Iran, with about 1.59% of healthcare workers dying from COVID-19, according to The Moscow Times. The analysis compared the situation to doctors dying the UK, the US, Italy, and Spain, all of which were below 1%.

A bus stop in Moscow.

A bus stop in Moscow on May 11, 2020.

Mikhail JaparidzeTASS via Getty Images


The study gave two possible explanations for why so many healthcare workers are dying in Russia: either mortality statistics are being underestimated or the risk is high because workers aren’t getting enough personal protective equipment.

Mediazona’s analysis excluded doctors who weren’t practicing, doctors not from Russia, and doctors who died from something other than COVID-19.

The New York Times reported there have been outbreaks in 400 Russian hospitals nationwide.

The country has been suspected of underreporting its COVID-19 cases by the international community. Russian government officials have denied any discrepancy and threatened to strip accreditation from media outlets, like The New York Times and the Financial Times, that have raised the possibility of a higher number of cases than reported.

According to Jamaludin Hajiyibragimov, the health minister of Dagestan, coronavirus deaths there are more than 20 times the official count.

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