Endless parade of the dead from COVID-19 in Moscow hospital

For nearly 20 months, Doctor Yevgeny Riabkov has seen the dying of COVID-19 parade in his Moscow hospital, faced like all of Russia with a new outbreak of the epidemic. In their last moments, many patients regret not having been vaccinated.

“Usually they look for excuses, they say they wanted to do it tomorrow,” the doctor told AFP, during a visit on Wednesday of his COVID unit at the Sklifossovsky Institute in the center of the capital Russian.

“Unfortunately, tomorrow has arrived today. “

In recent weeks, the rise in contamination and deaths from COVID-19 has once again been dramatic in Russia. On Wednesday, 1,028 deaths were added to the gruesome toll. A new record.


The country has so far recorded nearly 230,000 deaths due to the epidemic, according to government figures. But this record is underestimated. The Russian statistics agency Rosstat counted more than 400,000 deaths at the end of August.

Faced with a fourth wave since the summer, carried by the Delta variant, the authorities were however slow to react. Vladimir Putin finally ordered a week off on Wednesday in early November to try to stem the pandemic.

But the public authorities are still refusing for the time being more restrictive measures, such as containment, for fear of weakening the economy. In the streets of Moscow, by far the main epidemic focus of the country, bars and restaurants remain open. The wearing of the mask is little followed and little controlled.

Vaccination is moving very slowly in the face of traditional Russian mistrust. Less than a third of them are vaccinated, according to the specialized site Gogov.

Faced with all this, Doctor Yevgeny Riabkov, on the front lines for days and days, does not hide his frustration.

Evguéni Riabkov


Evguéni Riabkov

“If I take a drive, I see people without masks having fun, old and young, it annoys me, because I work for them. Unfortunately, they don’t understand, ”breathes this 54-year-old doctor.

“In these cases, I feel like screaming. He himself lost five of his colleagues to COVID-19.

The head of the hospital’s intensive care unit, Alexander Chakotko, is certain: only vaccination can defeat the disease. “We need social responsibility,” he says.

One of his patients, Olga Ryjko, a 51-year-old architect, admits to having repeatedly postponed her vaccination, without being opposed to it. She is now eternally indebted to her doctors. “I wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t saved me. ”

Others were not so lucky. On Monday, one of her bedroom neighbors died.


Another patient from the intensive care unit, Anatoly Poliakov, a retired policeman, has been there for two weeks. He too was not vaccinated. He said he was waiting with his wife for the arrival of a “solid” vaccine.

“We waited, waited and waited again. And that’s what we got, ”regrets this 76-year-old man. If he leaves the hospital alive, he swears to tell “everyone” that he must get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The doctors in this Covid unit, exhausted, refuse to consider the end. A way to find more strength.

“During the first two waves, we said to each other, come on, we have to hold out a little longer and then we will find a normal life”, remembers the resuscitator Alexandre Chakotko. “But we don’t think about it anymore. Because now, for us, that’s normal life.


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