Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Coronavirus Ratings of Regions More Political than Scientific, Medical Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 21 – Konstantin Yemeshin, a medical doctor and Altay activist, says that the figures behind the ratings of regions concerning the impact of the coronavirus are more political than scientific and do not represent an accurate picture of what is in fact going on (regnum.ru/news/3042297.html).

These ratings, currently a staple in the Russian media, are treated as far more objective than they are, leading both people in the so-called “red zone” of high danger and those elsewhere to make decisions not based on reality but on the basis of what regional and central political leaders want them to think (regnum.ru/news/3042505.html).

            According to Yemeshin, politicians are making the decisions not only about how many people to test but what is the best indicator of a crisis, infections, hospitalizations, or deaths in each particular case. To be useful such decisions must be made “not by bureaucrats and politicians but by scholars and [medical] administrators.”

            The Russian government released figures for the country as a whole again today, even though those too have been questioned in the past. Over the last 24 hours, there were registered 4870 new cases of infection, bringing that total to 946,976, and 90 new deaths, bringing that toll so far to 16,189 (t.me/COVID2019_official/1296).

            On the vaccine front, Vektor labs announced that its vaccine against the coronavirus would complete all clinical trials in September (regnum.ru/news/3042843.html). Officials also said that the first batch of the other vaccine had now been shipped to Voronezh Oblast (regnum.ru/news/3042349.html).

            And Russian medical officials also announced the start of distribution of flu vaccines which they are urging people to get to improve their chances against the coronavirus. The first batches of these have gone to Tatarstan and Chukotka (regnum.ru/news/3042612.html and regnum.ru/news/3042177.html).

            The pandemic continued to ebb and flow across the country with re-openings and re-closings both occurring with regularity (regnum.ru/news/society/3040080.html). St. Petersburg, still a coronavirus hotspot, reported that the number of non-hospitalized cases of pneumonia has shot up 31.1 times in June this year compared to a year ago, an indication that the situation in the northern capital may be even worse than officials are saying (regnum.ru/news/3043123.html).

            Reflecting the epidemiological situation in the North Caucasus, the Southern Federal District has decided to shift to an all-online format this fall (regnum.ru/news/3042871.html). But elsewhere, officials are uncertain how to handle the opening of schools, with some now announcing not only Plan A and Plan B but Plan C as well (regnum.ru/news/3042226.html).

            The situation in the Russian economy is somewhat better than it was at the start of the summer but it is far from being out of the woods, and economists are predicting that consumer demand is set to decline and there is likely to be a spark in non-payments on bills and loans (finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/dekan-ekonomfaka-mgu-predskazal-rossii-krizis-neplatezhey-1029523453).

            Only one percent of Russians currently are paid in hard currency, but a poll finds that 37 percent would like to be, an indication that many people there expect a devaluation or at least a decline in the exchange rate of the ruble in the coming months (finanz.ru/novosti/valyuty/bolee-treti-rossiyan-khotyat-poluchat-zarplatu-v-valyute-1029522646).

                Vitaly Mutko, head of the DOM.RU company, says that even if mortgage rates were cut to zero, no  more than 60 percent of Russians could qualify for one, another indication of economic problems many Russians below the top now face (eastrussia.ru/news/mutko-dlya-40-rossiyan-ipoteka-ostaetsya-nedostupnoy/).

            Meanwhile, in other pandemic-related developments from Russia today,

·         A majority of Russians still haven’t made plans for vacations because of uncertainties about the coronavirus (regnum.ru/news/3043012.html).

·         Russian airlines are cutting ticket prices on domestic routes in the hopes of attracting more passengers (vedomosti.ru/business/articles/2020/08/21/837295-aviakompanii-iz-za-plohogo-sprosa).

·         A Russian doctor warns that those who smoke are five times more likely than non-smokers to suffer the greatest impact from coronavirus infections and that those who vape are seven times as likely (regnum.ru/news/3042300.html).

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