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Meeting with Government members

January 13, 2021, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

The President held a meeting, via videoconference, with members of the Government of the Russian Federation.

The results of road construction in 2020 and plans for 2021–2023 were the main item on the meeting’s agenda. Reports on this issue were delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin and chairman of the State Council commission on Transport, Head of Buryatia Alexei Tsydenov.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova reported on the current epidemiologic situation and preparations for the next major phase of public vaccinations against COVID-19.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko spoke about the accessibility for citizens of services when applying for social payments and about new digital services on public services portal.

The report by Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko covered issues of improving control and supervision activities.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, deputy prime ministers Viktoria Abramchenko, Yury Borisov, Alexander Novak, Alexei Overchuk, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, presidential aides Maxim Oreshkin and Igor Levitin, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of the Interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Healthcare Mikhail Murashko, Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev, Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Irek Fayzullin, and Chairman of the Accounts Chamber Alexei Kudrin.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

Today we will listen to Mr Khusnullin, who will report on the results of road construction in 2020 and plans for 2021–2022.

Overall, we must pay more attention in the near future to infrastructure development in general, not just roads, but also railway construction, development of pipeline systems and of transport in general.

We recently discussed the importance of the country’s spatial development and connectivity between various Russian regions, bearing in mind the huge size of our territory. We must tie this to the development of the real economy with a view to modern trends of economic development in the world and in our country.

But we will start, in the near future, with the power industry. I have asked our colleagues in the Government, the Presidential Executive Office and the regions to prepare these issues for joint discussion at the State Council and the Government. After that we will meet in an expanded format to coordinate our decisions on the most complicated matters.

Today we will listen to a report on road construction, as I have already mentioned. But before focusing on the main issue on our agenda today, I would like to ask Ms Golikova to update us on the situation with the coronavirus infection.

We can see that the efforts to eliminate this disease around the world and to prevent its negative impacts have not succeeded, so far. But first of all, we should be interested in what is happening in the Russian Federation. We have noticed a certain decrease [in the number of new cases], but this is no reason for complacency. We are aware of the developments in some other countries, for example, Britain, which we are following with concern, and we maintain contact with our European partners regarding this.

All these things are interconnected; travelling is unavoidable, and the restrictions we have introduced on communications and transport ties are a temporary measure. We must be aware of what is happening in this country and how we can deal with new threats, including new strains of the coronavirus infection.

Ms Golikova, please. We maintain regular, almost daily contact with you. Please, tell us about what is happening today, right now, so that our colleagues will learn about the situation in the regions and hear your opinion.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova: Mr President, colleagues,

Good afternoon.

At yesterday’s meeting of the Coordination Council Presidium, chaired by Mr Mishustin, we reviewed how the epidemiological oversight and healthcare systems performed during the New Year holidays.

On the whole, as I have already said, during the New Year holidays, the systems of epidemiological oversight and medical aid for the population performed without any setbacks although the spread of the new coronavirus infection has been affected by the traditional increase in the demand for medical aid due to injuries and intoxication.

About 285,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus infection have been registered so far this year. Compared with the last 12 days of December, this is a decrease of more than 15 percent. Almost 274,000 people have recovered since the start of 2021.

As for the rest of the world, and you mentioned this, Mr President, in your opening remarks, in the first week of 2021 the number of diagnosed coronavirus cases increased by 5.5 percent. Almost half of all new cases are concentrated in America and 38 percent have been registered in Europe. The number of the new coronavirus cases recorded is rising in 23 out of 55 European countries. As you have already said, in absolute terms, the biggest number of cases was recorded in the United Kingdom (a growth of almost 34 percent) in the first week of this year as against the last week of 2020. This is connected with the spread of the new coronavirus strain that was identified by our British colleagues.

As you know, I reported to you, we are closely following this situation and conducting relevant research. We will report to you on the results upon its completion.

The daily incidence rate in Russia has fallen from 19.9 to 15.6 cases per 100,000 people. The situation in the regions remains different but in the past two weeks the number of cases has either gone down or stabilised in 83 regions. For the time being, the incidence rate is on the rise in two regions.

During the holidays, we managed to continue with a fairly high level of testing for the new coronavirus infection. On average, we prevented any reduction in the established norms although commercial laboratories reduced their testing during the days off.

While highlighting these encouraging epidemiological data across Russia, I still want to warn our citizens. The New Year holidays are over and as usual, after such long holidays, we monitor incidence. This monitoring, based on certain criteria, will last two weeks – the time known as the virus incubation period. Therefore, I urge our citizens to continue to comply with the restrictive measures. I am mainly referring to wearing facemasks, social distancing and other recommended measures.

I would also like to highlight once again something I discussed with the Prime Minister yesterday: Rospotrebnadzor has approved all the methodological recommendations for industries, so I would like to ask our colleagues, employers, to follow these recommendations.

As I said, the healthcare system worked smoothly through the New Year holidays. To date, Russia has deployed 277,000 COVID beds in hospitals. As of yesterday morning, the average bed occupancy rate was 69.2 percent, because, among other things, at the end of 2020 you made a decision to support the regions by providing financial resources for pharmaceutical procurement to provide patients with free medicines in outpatient care. The allocations to the regions totalled 7.8 billion rubles, and at the end of December, another 2.8 billion rubles for the purchase of medicines in January. So as of today, 813,500 patients were provided with medicines in outpatient care. I would like to thank the regions for their work.

Yesterday, at the Coordination Council meeting, the Prime Minister instructed to allocate about 2.7 billion rubles to the regions for the provision of medicines in outpatient clinics in February. We are currently preparing a corresponding document for submission and signing.

I would like to note once again that at yearend, the output of domestic medicines had increased many-fold compared to the level at the start of production. The average weekly increase in the output of anti-COVID products grew 301 percent between April and December, and 38 percent between November and December. Our industry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade have made significant efforts to this end.

In 2020, we purchased 2,936 ambulances for all the regions of the Russian Federation. Following the decision that was made at a meeting you chaired, Mr President, to buy ambulances using the funds allocated for the programme of modernising the primary care system, I would like to report that these 2,000 ambulances have been manufactured and sent to the regions. As of today, 1,848 ambulances have been dispatched and 152 vehicles with off-road capabilities are still on the way because they are being sent to remote areas – the Altai, Khabarovsk and Trans-Baikal territories, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Sakhalin Region.

On December 30, 2020, the Chief Doctor of the Kandalaksha Central District Hospital handed car keys to Tatyana Yakovleva, a doctor at an outpatient clinic in the village of Alakurtti in the Murmansk Region. Her appeal was voiced at your news conference. I would like to mention, Mr President, that now insurance and other papers for this car are being processed by road traffic safety inspectors.

As for vaccination against the novel coronavirus infection, it was carried out as scheduled despite the holidays and is now continuing as planned. About 600,000 vaccine doses will be sent to regions on January 11–14. We will continue building up vaccine production and supplies to the regions.

As you know, since November 2020, medical workers and others who help coronavirus patients have been receiving special social payments. I would like to report that last November and December, 44.4 billion rubles were paid to 1,435,000 medical workers. Ledgers are continuing to arrive because of the holidays and we are promptly making these payments.

Following the decision made at your meeting on New Year’s eve, we doubled the pay of those working during the holidays. By January 15, 2021 the Healthcare Ministry must submit the ledgers of medical organisations to the Social Insurance Fund, and from January 16, this Fund will be making double payments. Starting from February 1, 2021, the Fund will be making full payments for January 2021.

Mr President, I would like to report once again that the Government of the Russian Federation is in full control of this work in all aspects and areas.

Thank you for your attention.

Vladimir Putin: All right, thank you.

I would like to draw your attention, Ms Golikova, and that of your colleagues in the Healthcare Ministry, to the following: based on documents and reports from the regional leaders, the volume of medical treatment rendered during the holiday season did not drop, which is a positive indicator. This is thanks to you, the Healthcare Ministry, and the heads of the relevant regional bodies, and the medical personnel who were working throughout this period. This is why, as you said, the double payment I asked for just before the New Year, should be distributed completely within the timeframe you set. This is the first thing.

Second, is, as you put it, the continuing research on the coronavirus infection. We are seeing a surge in cases in some countries. It is unclear whether this surge is caused by a new virus strain or a lack of proper discipline during the holiday season. We must have a clear understanding of how the vaccine is doing; I am aware that we have these new strains, and our researchers and specialists are working on it.

I believe the Russian vaccine is the best in the world, which is now absolutely obvious. We thought so before, and now experience proves it. No other preparation of this kind shows the same level of protection and the same degree of health safety. This is a clear achievement by our researchers and scientists. However, we have to find out how it will work against the various strains.

I know our researchers’ opinion, who believe our vaccine will work effectively regardless of the strain. However, more in-depth studies are needed. I ask you to oversee this research in full and see to it that everything meets the highest standards, as it has been until now.

Regarding the regions. According to the reports I have, and you also mentioned this, the situation differs in various regions. Initially we allowed the regional governors to independently decide on restriction measures in the economy, the social sphere and in transport, that’s true. Nevertheless, we should constantly stand by our colleagues and offer them methodological, organisational and administrative assistance as well as financial assistance if needed, like we have been, and this also applies to the Healthcare Ministry.

I assume that everything that has recently been worked out will be implemented in full. I mean we are rolling out the vaccination and are now moving to the public vaccination phase. Last week the Prime Minister told me that the industry had not only produced all the amounts and volumes they promised but had also exceeded the planned production volumes. We need to move from large-scale to full public vaccinations. I want you to keep this in mind and prepare for the organisation of this. Thank God our vaccine does not require extreme or unusual conditions for shipping or transportation like a temperature of minus 50 or 70 degrees. Things are much simpler and more efficient with us. So it is possible to do this.

This is why I ask you to launch public vaccinations for the entire population as of next week and work out a schedule for this as we normally do with other diseases such as the flu. We have a generally streamlined system and so we must get to a larger scale in this.

What do you think of the possibility of moving on to a new scale, to a full public vaccination programme?

Tatyana Golikova: Mr President, thank you for appreciating our efforts.

I would like to say that during the pre-holiday period and in the first working days of this week, we have made efforts to evaluate the capacities of our domestic enterprises that produce COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in view of the required quality trials that take a certain period of time before a vaccine can be launched. As of today, 1331 vaccination centres have been set up in Russia, and we are urging the regions to increase this number as the volume of the vaccine, for free COVID-19 injections, will increase many-fold compared to December.

Starting Monday, we are ready to implement your instruction on shifting from large-scale vaccination to more extensive public vaccination efforts in January, February and beyond. We will hold additional consultations with the regions. Tomorrow, I am planning to chair a meeting of the emergency response centre, at the Prime Minister’s instruction, to discuss details of the process with the regions in order to avoid any setbacks during this large public process.

In addition, I would say that the manufacturers are making every effort to increase vaccine production volumes. By the end of January, 2.1 million doses will be provided for citizens, and this requires a serious effort to promote the use of the vaccine. We will also step up the information campaign on the safety and efficiency of the vaccine, as you mentioned.

As of today, I can say that the work to sequence the new COVID-19 strain performed by the Vector Research Centre shows that the vaccine is effective against this strain. Yet, as I already mentioned, we are conducting additional research to be absolutely certain that this is indeed so, but we already have reason to say this. We are conducting research on animals at this point.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you.

Tatyana Golikova: Mr President, I would also like to mention that the sequencing of the new strain or any other strain of infection is essential, and we are working to refine this technology. We always make a comprehensive effort, but we want to increase the work on sequencing new strains of infectious diseases. This will allow us to receive a broader picture of the infections that spread across Russia and the world.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thank you. I believe the work will continue at the appropriate level.


January 13, 2021, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region