Staunton, March 26 – It is one of the perversities of the current Western coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that most outlets uncritically accept figures from their own countries and others as the journalists prepare the daily rankings of infections and deaths from this horrific disease.
There are at least two reasons why this is a mistake. On the one hand, the number of infections and deaths from them depends heavily on how many people have been tested. The share of the populations that have been varies widely. When there is more testing, there are likely to be more cases. When less, less.
And on the other, in many countries, doctors and other medical professionals are actively discouraged from reporting this or other high-profile diseases as the cause of death and urged to list others instead; and in some, the governments have acquired a well-deserved reputation for manipulating the figures and outright lying.
Because of their experiences with their own governments, residents of the Russian Federation and other post-Soviet states are less likely to believe what their governments tell them on this issue. According to a Levada Center poll, 59 percent of Russians say they don’t trust official figures on the coronavirus (levada.ru/2020/03/26/pandemiya-koronavirusa/).
And a survey of the views in many of the other post-Soviet states finds much the same: “The state is concealing the true extent” of this crisis, people across the region say (lenta.ru/articles/2020/03/27/decameron/