Wednesday, August 26, 2020

‘No More than 10’ Russian Regions Now Providing Accurate Coronavirus Data, Mathematical Analysis Shows

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 22 – Over the last month, regions including Moscow are reporting figures that reflect what their leaders have promised but that are improbable when subjected to mathematical analysis. They should vary more than they have, and that suggests “no more than 10” regions are now reporting accurately, according to sociologist Andrey Kuprianov.

            The Higher School of Economics expert says that mathematical modeling predicts that regardless of the overall trend, up or down, the numbers should vary far more from one week to the next than they are in places where officials have said they won’t (

            In Moscow, for example, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said at the end of July, that new infections in his city would remain within “a corridor of 650 to 700, plus or minus 50” on a daily basis. In the days since, they have done just that rather than fluctuate more widely as they did before the mayor’s announcement.

            The same thing is true across the country, Kuprianov says; and this is increasing skepticism about the numbers – are the authorities hiding the real figures to avoid spreading panic? – and about the future – will the schools really open on September 1 or will many or all of them be forced to go to a distance-learning regime.

            Sobyanin has added to the latter fears because despite promising to reopen the schools in a normal way, he has just appointed a senior aide to oversee digital instruction. That has led many to conclude that even in Moscow, pupils will have to study online rather than go to class and that this will spread to the country as a whole (

            Education experts say that Moscow would not have much difficulty in making the shift given that most homes have computers and internet connections; but in many parts of the Russian Federation, the situation is different and there is no money or time to correct it. Consequently, such a shift now could lead to the collapse of instruction in those places.

            The all-Russian figures Moscow releases are a sum of regional figures, and therefore likely to be anything but accurate, especially for the reasons Kurpianov gives. But they do provide a certain indication at least of what the Russian government hopes and expects Russians and others will believe.

            According to the data today, there were 4,921 new cases of infection registered, bringing that total to 951,897 and 121 new deaths, raising that toll for the pandemic period as a whole to 121 ( News agency reports suggest the pandemic continues to ebb and flow in many places (

            Meanwhile, new official data show that the pandemic has pushed poverty in Russia up, with almost half of the population now living on incomes most experts consider to be putting them in that category ( But despite this, economists say a national default is unlikely anytime soon (

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