Russia’s Federal Statistics Agency Rosstat said Friday that the country saw 50,421 coronavirus deaths in July—more than double the official government figure.
Russia—the fourth worst-hit country in the world in terms of COVID-19 cases—has struggled with the aggressive Delta variant and sluggish vaccination rates.
Rosstat’s figure—released late on Friday—painted a far darker picture of the pandemic’s toll in the country than official figures suggest, with a government tally saying 23,349 Russians died as a result of COVID-19 in July.
Government figures only take into account fatalities where the virus was established as the primary cause of death after an autopsy.
Rosstat, however, publishes figures under a broader definition for deaths linked to the virus.
According to the agency, more than 350,000 people have died in Russia as a result of coronavirus. The government figure is far lower, at 180,041.
Russian authorities have been accused of downplaying the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
While the number of daily infections is now on the decline, Russia has hit record daily deaths several times in August.
Authorities have struggled with a vaccine-sceptic population, with independent polls showing that a majority of Russians do not plan to get innoculated.
Moscow—the epicentre of Russia’s pandemic—and several other regions have introduced mandatory vaccinations for some groups of citizens and incentives to get jabbed.
While the measures initially sped up Russia’s vaccination campaign, the inoculation drive has been faltering since mid-August.