Monday, March 15, 2021

During Pandemic, Moscow has Focused on Defending Its Position rather than Fighitng the Coronavirus, Epidemiologist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 13 – As the pandemic passes its first anniversary, Aleksey Yakovlev says, it is possible to draw several conclusions, but one of the most important is that the Russian regime like other governments around the world has done what it has to protect its power rather than fight the coronavirus in ways researchers and doctors have recommended.

            The former chief doctor of the Botkin hospital who now works as head of the department of infectious diseases and epidemiology at St. Petersburg State University, says that over the past 12 months, the views of the medical community and the politicians have increasingly diverged (

            As a result, officials have often taken steps such as imposing lockdowns, closing borders, or viewing testing as a panacea that medical experts say won’t work even as they have understated the problem. Experts recognize, for example, that about half of the population of Russian cities has been infected, far more than officials admit.

            On the one hand, this means that the amount of vaccination that is likely to be required is far less than officials say. But on the other, it means that in the great experiment of fighting the pandemic, many things have had to be learned or learned again on a trial-and-error basis rather than building on a foundation of expertise.

            According to Yakovlev, “the entire world had forgotten that there can be epidemics.” Instead, it focused on cancer and other diseases where new technologies allow targeted treatment. Countries “had ceased to think about the possibility of providing mass assistance to the population” and thus did not draw on the experiences of a century ago.

            Had governments including the Russian one relied on that experience and that commitment, they would have done better than they have in fighting the pandemic. But what they have done instead is to adopt the approach that they have been using for other diseases because that is what the population has come to expect.

            Thus, the race for vaccines and much-ballyhooed official moves like lockdowns and border closings overshadowed the time-tested ways of dealing with epidemics from the past, he argues; and that in turn means that the coronavirus pandemic has lasted longer and will continue to last for several years.

            However that may be, Russian officials today reported registering 9908 new cases of infection and 475 new deaths from the pandemic, as the plague continued is slow ebb across the Russian Federation ( and

            As more regional statistical agencies release their reports for the last year, analysts are finding more evidence that the Russian government has understated the demographic impact of the pandemic, in some cases by as much as a factor of ten, in order to avoid popular outrage and fears (

            Russian officials continue to stress that the Sputnik-5 vaccine is safe and effective, but despite that, experts at the Academy of Sciences say that 70 percent of Russians remain unwilling to get the shots even though they are afraid of the disease itself ( and

            Moscow continues to export its vaccine as much for political gain as financial reward. One Russian observer in the Baltic countries says that the Russian vaccine is deepening divides between ethnic Russians who want the Sputnik-5 medication and members of the titular nationalities who don’t (

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