Commentary: Russia cannot avoid the third wave of coronavirus

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The Russian leadership will repeat the mistakes of the authorities of other countries and will not take unpopular measures in a timely manner to stop the mutations of the coronavirus. This is the forecast of Andrey Gurkov.

Commentary: Russia cannot avoid the third wave of coronavirus

Symbolic depiction of a coronavirus mutation

One of the most important tasks of journalism is making predictions. In other words, to help thinking people calculate the likely or possible course of events. Forecasts are needed to make adequate decisions in a variety of areas, be it the weather, the state of the economy, the level of credit rates, the dynamics of exchange rates, the consequences of political decisions. And, of course, when assessing the epidemiological situation.

British mutation B.1.1.7 – the main culprit of the third wave in Europe

On August 31, 2020, the author of these lines published a comment on the DW website under the heading “There is a second wave of coronavirus. Get ready!” I had no intention of “spreading horror stories,” as the skeptical covid social media users suspected at the time. Just a journalistic analysis of the information received in those days from different European countries led to the conclusion that readers should certainly be warned about the threat to their health and about impending serious problems for business in their countries, be it Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus …

Commentary: Russia cannot avoid the third wave of coronavirus

DW Economic Observer Andrey Gurkov

The current commentary is written for the same reasons. Now, as at the end of August, the facts indicate that a new, third wave of COVID-19 is gaining momentum. In Germany, for example, resuscitation wards are rapidly filling up again, the number of deaths in Poland has sharply increased, Azerbaijan has recorded record numbers of infections detected per day since the beginning of the year, and in Turkey the number of infected and dead per day has reached a level unprecedented in the entire pandemic.

The new wave, experts explain, is associated with more infectious and more deadly mutations of the coronavirus (in the Russian-speaking space, they are most often called strains). In Germany, where calls for a new short but hard lockdown are louder, the British mutation B.1.1.7 already accounts for about 90 percent of all positive tests. In Kazakhstan, where the third wave is already underway, British, South African and Brazilian mutations were recorded throughout the country by the beginning of April, with the exception of four regions.

Time lag between waves of coronavirus in the EU and Russia

These mutations have also reached Russia. The head of Rospotrebnadzor and the chief sanitary doctor of the Russian Federation, Anna Popova, at a meeting in the government announced on April 6 about 103 detected cases of infection with the British variant of the virus and 10 with the South African variant. It would seem, what kind of threat can such scanty figures pose for a huge country?

However, the experience of the first two waves of coronavirus shows that they hit Russia with full force about one and a half to two months after they cover the EU countries. At the end of August, when the previous comment was written, the situation in the Russian Federation seemed even more or less favorable, Russians began to become massively infected towards the end of October, after which in November-December the disease simply began to mow people down.

Mikhail Mishustin convenes two meetings at once to combat covid

The danger of a new round of a pandemic is clearly understood by the Russian government. Otherwise, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin would not have convened meetings on the fight against coronavirus twice last week. On Tuesday, April 6, the focus was on the threat of a third wave and on “new strains.” Stressing that it is necessary to react immediately, the head of government instructed Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova to present “additional measures to protect people” by Friday. On April 9, the prime minister, together with the manufacturers of Russian vaccines, discussed their production and measures to accelerate the vaccination campaign in the country. At the same time, he again drew attention to “new, more aggressive and less studied strains of coronavirus.”

The problem is that any additional anti-epidemic measures, except for accelerating mass vaccination, inevitably come down, as international experience convincingly shows, to toughening the requirements of social distancing and to various more or less strict restrictions. And all this is extremely unpopular in Russia and will not be supported by society, especially now, when everyone is looking forward to the long-awaited spring after an abnormally prolonged winter, and for some reason many people believe that the epidemic is over or, thanks to the warm weather, is about to end.

The Russian leadership will repeat the mistakes of the authorities of other countries

In addition, soon, on April 21, Vladimir Putin will deliver a message to the Federal Assembly, and the president will probably prefer to talk about successes in the fight against coronavirus than about some new lockdown. Then there will be the May holidays, beloved by all Russians, with mass festivities, parades and tourist trips around the country and abroad, after which the traditional time of graduation parties in schools will soon come, and then the period of summer holidays is just around the corner.

That is why it can be assumed that the Russian leadership will follow the same path and make about the same mistakes as the authorities of many other countries, including Germany: they will delay the tightening of annoying restrictive measures as long as possible amid the rapid spread of mutations. As a result, Russia, like most countries around it, will not be able to avoid the third wave of coronavirus.

But this is just a journalistic forecast, just information for thought for those who consciously go through life, are used to weighing their actions and avoid unjustified risks. Take care of yourself!

Posted by Andrey Gurkov, economic commentator for Deutsche Welle

The commentary expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the opinion of the Russian editorial staff and Deutsche Welle in general.

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