(Bloomberg) -- Russia suffered its deadliest year since World War II as the Covid-19 pandemic shows little sign of relenting. 

There were 54,630 deaths associated with the virus last month, according to data released by the Federal Statistics Service late Friday. That was a 38% decrease from the record set in November but still the third-highest month since the start of the pandemic. The latest data bring total fatalities linked to Covid-19 in Russia to more than 680,000 since the virus first spread. 

Excluding immigration, Russia’s population fell by 1.04 million last year. The country has been ravaged by Covid-19 amid widespread resistance to getting inoculated, despite the availability of free domestic vaccines.  

“Such a large natural population loss, exceeding 1 million people, is unprecedented in the entire history of Russia,” Vera Karpova, a demographer at Moscow State University, said. “Despite the fact that a decline was predicted even before the start of the pandemic, its scale is much larger, even compared to the worst-case forecast.”

New cases in Russia have exploded this week as omicron spread around the country. On Friday, the government reported a record 98,040 cases. Raksha said Russia has likely passed the worst of the death toll in the last few months.

About 64% of Russians have immunity either from an inoculation or by recovering from the virus, according to the government’s Covid-19 reporting center. 

The pandemic has exacerbated Russia’s demographic issues that President Vladimir Putin has identified as one of the nation’s most pressing problems. Russia’s population was estimated at 145.48 million at the start of 2022, a decrease of 700,000 from the previous year, according to the statistics service. 

“We have accumulated approximately 1,040,000 excess deaths, the second most in the world after India” over the course of the pandemic, independent demographer Alexei Raksha wrote on Facebook this week. “If we rank countries by mortality relative to the expected percentage trend, then out of 116 countries we are in the top ten in excess mortality, and this is the worst result among countries of the same or higher level of development.”

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