Maksim Shevchenko: ‘The real incidence in Russia is much higher than the authorities are reporting’
Famous journalist who recovered from the coronavirus talks about the modern state of health care
The coronavirus incidence can be much higher than official statistics, journalist and politician Maksim Shevchenko thinks who recently recovered from this illness and experienced all nuances of its treatment. In an interview with Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent, he shared his opinion about the effectiveness of the tests, causes of the fall of Russian health care.
“Coronavirus sociology is ten times understated”
Mr Shevchenko, we can probably congratulate you on recovery. What did you have in the end?
Thanks, though it is still hard to speak. It is coronavirus pneumonia.
How effective were the COVID tests?
Doctors say it is fifty-fifty. It is an absolutely ineffective test.
After you experienced all the “charm” of the coronavirus, has your attitude to the pandemic and the measures taken changed?
The attitude hasn’t changed at all. I think this disease and economic and social measures the state is taking to help people fight this pandemic, the political fight of those who are taking advantage of this pandemic, trying to change the power of the world or every country are three separate issues. I have always treated this disease as reality and never said it doesn’t exist.
I thought that sociology is a bit exaggerated. But now I understand that it is many times understated. The incidence in Russia is much higher than the authorities are reporting. But might the authorities not try to hind behind the pandemic, they have left the people, country to their own devices. And simultaneously they are taking advantage of this situation to fight for power, to lie in wait, different clans in power are fighting for the right to dominate. We see it both in Russia and around the world. The global crisis has different dimensions.
The pandemic didn’t have the time to emerge, while Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor announced these tests as the only source of information about coronavirus. Who developed these tests? Because it is obvious that it is done to put billions of rubles into somebody’s pocket
“Not hospitals became the hotspot but the policy of the Ministry of Health Care”
How did it happen that Soviet medicine that used to be one of the best in the world went down to the state you have recently faced first-hand?
It is almost 30 years of so-called reforms, systemic destruction of health care. Why was it destroyed? To enable the group of the ruling top to earn money. They want to turn all forms of existence, all heritage of the Soviet Union — from economic, social, industrial, scientific and medical, which is all people’s achievement — into their source of income. They are consummate neoliberal capitalists who think that everything that can make money must bring money. They would sell children’s organs with pleasure. I am not sure they don’t sell them in the black market because there is no crime these people would not commit to making a surplus profit. They destroyed the integrated system [of health care] created by academician Semashko for the sake of surplus profit, only to report in front of their bosses somewhere in the world: “We are making capitalistic reforms”. And here they turned everything into a source of income.
These tests are an indicator. The pandemic didn’t have the time to emerge, while Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor announced these tests as the only source of information about coronavirus. Who developed these tests? Because it is obvious that it is done to put billions of rubles into somebody’s pocket. Though these tests have been approved and examined neither clinically nor diagnostically by some medical institutions. They just turned everything into a business. This is the nature of predatory capitalism where capitalism exists separately considering the country as a source of fortune, while the country exists separately as an independent space for people to live, they fight for their destiny, present and future.
Two countries — two peoples. It is the small people who sponge in the country, consume it, turn it into a source of its development. And it is the big people who survive in this situation. It is wolves and sheep. We have almost reached a situation (the pandemic) that there are wolves who those who consider themselves wolves (though I think they are just dogs), and there are sheep, but believe me, there are a lot of people among these sheep who start to understand their human existence.
They created such game rules everywhere. This is why not hospitals became the hotspot but the policy of the Ministry of Health Care to hospitals, doctors, health care staff. Hospitals became a source of salvation of people’s lives
How did hospitals become the hotspot of the disease like it was in Syktyvkar, Ufa and Sterlitamak?
I don’t think it is true. Firstly, I think that this happened because the isolation of health care workers on the first days, weeks wasn’t well thought out. Frankly speaking, I was not in the worst hospitals at Russian level. Even the first hospital I was in (No. 79 in Moscow) was anyway a public hospital, but all doctors were in protective suits. Yes, it is hard, but it is better than contracting the coronavirus. So I think that doctors in many hospitals had just masks, gloves and coats first. No mask saves from the infection. The suit that has several layers of protection saves from the infection, though it isn’t a guarantee. And I almost contacted the doctors in such clothes, though not always. For instance, an ambulance doctor took me to the hospital who had just a mask on. I am not sure that this amazing young man hasn’t contracted the virus from me or somebody else. Is there another way? The Ministry of Health Care doesn’t care about what’s happening in the system. They care about PR, reports and making money at any price. If you managed to make money, it means you are right. If you didn’t, it is your fault. They created such game rules everywhere. This is why not hospitals became the hotspot but the policy of the Ministry of Health Care to hospitals, doctors, health care staff. Hospitals became a source of salvation of people’s lives.