Was Russia hiding an actual coronavirus data from WHO?

After Russia was accused of being “ablaze” with infections by Belarus and of many other “blatant lies” by the EU, Moscow found it necessary to defend its credibility on coronavirus data. As the spokesman for the Russian EU embassy said, “The reasons why the officially confirmed number of those infected in Russia at this stage remains relatively low may be of a complex character. Such facts should not be a basis for developing conspiracy theories.”

It was noted that Russia, just like any other country, was sharing up-to-date figures of coronavirus spread with international partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and EU countries, in this “fast-changing” environment. The same spokesman also commented that “At the moment when I got a request citing 93 cases [in Russia], there were already more than 100 confirmed and officially declared cases. And this figure, unfortunately, but objectively is about to increase.”

The figure was updated to 114 cases on Tuesday this week and to 147 cases on Thursday respectively. However, the suspicion about whether this figure represents the true situation, comes from extensive business and tourism links Russia has with China, Iran, and some countries of the EU (including Italy and Spain). And with the population of around 150 mio people in Russia, there are still less cases than in microstate of Luxembourg (203 cases now).

Moreover, Russia’s main testing authority, Rospotrebnadzor, has also confirmed that after testing 116K people, it turned out that the average rate of infected is around 0.1%, which is by far the lowest ratio around the world.

According to the Russian government, suspicion towards Russia came after Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko accused the Kremlin of under-reporting the true picture of the coronavirus spread across the country. But the Russian government tried to reassure people that this comment did “not reflect reality”.

At the same time, some experts believe that such a low number of cases in Russia might come from a lack of knowledge on how this virus spread, as the Russian EU embassy spokesman noted, saying, “Even qualified virologists or sociologists are not ready yet for a deep and comprehensive analysis of the situation in Russia, in the EU, or elsewhere in the world. Scientists have just started studying the new virus.”

According to Judyth Twigg, a politics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the US, “Of course, Russia’s current numbers aren’t credible, in the same way that they’re not credible in most parts of the world. Testing hasn’t caught up with actual circulation of the virus. We’re operating almost everywhere with incomplete information.”

Not taking the WHO data in consideration, the EU foreign service has also accused Russia of conducting a “significant disinformation campaign” on other coronavirus issues. As usual, the aim of such a campaign is to sow discord in Western countries, the EU stated.

The recent EU report mentioned that Russia’s “blatant lies” were “playing with people’s lives”. “Stop the viral spread of disinformation. Wash hands, stay home if unwell,” it said.

What is more, the EU couldn’t help but notice that Russia’s media is vastly “playing” on coronavirus spread trying to turn it to its favor. Namely, one of the Russian TV channels claimed it was actually a US-produced biological weapon. Also, Russia’s media channels elaborated on a possibility that Western pharmaceutical firms are trying to blow the currency situation out of proportion.

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