Disinfo: Russia is world’s best-prepared country to deal with second coronavirus wave

Summary

Russia has proven so effective in containing the pandemic that, in the event of a second wave of COVID-19, it will be better-prepared for it than virtually anyone else. They have tests and medicines; they are working on a vaccine; they have built and equipped new hospitals; they have exceptional doctors and a healthcare system which has proven its effectiveness.

All things considered, they are the best in the world.

Disproof

The claim advances recurring pro-Kremlin narratives concerning the coronavirus pandemic and Russian superiority.

As is the case with any other country, Russia's preparedness for a potential second wave of coronavirus is difficult to gauge, given that the pandemic is a new and ongoing crisis. That said, Russia's efficiency so far in containing the pandemic hardly qualifies as "the best in the world."

As of 7 July, Russia is by far the worst-affected European country with 694,230 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and fourth worst-affected country worldwide. Nonetheless, the number of coronavirus-related deaths in Russia has been strikingly low with 10,494 deaths (a mortality rate of approx. 1.5%), which has invited widespread skepticism both within and outside the country.

This anomaly can hardly be attributed to the quality of Russian healthcare. In a 2016 analysis by Bloomberg, Russia's healthcare system was billed the least-efficient out of all 55 countries included in the study. Instead, available evidence suggests that the unusually low number of deaths is the result of manipulated statistics and top-down state pressure, particularly at the regional level. In May 2020, 233% more patients in at least two Russian regions died from COVID-19 than was reported in the official overall state count. That same month, the governor of Lipetsk was caught on tape instructing his staff to massage local coronavirus statistics, lest "people...think bad things about [the] region." According to media, an analysis of death certificates issued in St Petersburg throughout May indicates that "hundreds of deaths tied to the pandemic are not reflected in the city’s official coronavirus death toll." The following month, the WHO issued a rebuke calling on Russia to review its COVID-19 death toll, saying that "Russia's low coronavirus mortality is 'hard to understand.'" Notably, mistrust of government statistics even extends to Russian doctors, most of whom believe official figures to be inaccurate.

Against this background, Russian doctors indeed deserve praise. Amid bureaucratic confusion and chronic shortages of protective equipment, at least 489 healthcare workers had died of coronavirus as of 18 June.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 204
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/07/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Russia
  • Keywords: coronavirus, health, Russian superiority, Diseases

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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