In just a short period of time the world in Russia has changed for
everyone. I’ve started to notice how people around me are going mad.
They’ve started blaming and avoiding other people, making social
distance the priority of their lives. These people are well-educated,
well-off, with flexible minds. It doesn't matter who they were in their
life “before corona”. Now all of them are afraid. And that's the reason
for their madness.

They are afraid to go to the office, walk, meet with their friends and
just do what they usually do. And all of them are repeating the same
mantra - the situation is _very_ serious; we don't want the Italian and
American scenario be repeated here. One person told my friend: “They
cancelled the Cannes Film Festival”. They never did that before. So it
does mean the world is close to catastrophe.

Would you say it's the pandemic of coronavirus that is changing Russia?
No, I'd say it's the Pandemic of Fear that did it.

Of course, no politician wants to see all these human victims (and the
fall in their own ratings). But do they really know what to do?

Here in Russia the first statement on coronavirus was made by President
Vladimir Putin on 25th March. He unveiled measures designed to slow the
transmission of coronavirus, declaring the next week a non-working week
for most people and urging people to stay at home. All entertainment
venues in Moscow and some other cities were closed, as well as most
schools, kindergartens and universities. But neither a quarantine nor a
state of emergency were announced. So many people went for a walk during
the sunny weekend. But then the mass media “exposed” them as “violators”
of a non-existing quarantine. The reaction of the authorities to this
panicky behaviour by the media was a total lockdown in most regions of
Russia. It was then further prolonged until the end
of April. The media and many so-called experts had pushed successfully
for unnecessary action by the government.

The number of corona cases is increasing every day. But the fatality
rate is less than 1%. A new Italian government health report says that
99% of those who have died had pre-existing illnesses. It seems that the
actions of the government are orchestrated by the Pandemic of Fear.

Because of the way epidemics work most people are infected by the corona
virus already or will be later. Will we panic more when that hits home
among the general public and the politicians? An irrational fear could
take over with consequences that we have yet to witness.

Today many Russian experts debate whether this virus had already been
spreading in Russia since the end of last year. Actually, in November,
we do know that there was an outbreak of pneumonia in some Russian
regions. Some schools in Moscow were closed for quarantine in December
because of community-acquired pneumonia. According to the state
statistics’ agency, Rosstat, in January in Moscow the number of
pneumonia cases increased by 37% compared to 2019. The total number for
the month was 6921. But no experts got worked up. Even now they can’t
say which virus caused the pneumonia. Nobody bothered too much.

We already know that today's lockdown is costing the Russian economy a
lot. Some officials are making forecasts for 1.5-2% loss of GDP for each
month of the quarantine. According to the latest online polls, the
economic crisis has already had an impact on 60% of respondents. 45%
have decreased incomes and 5% have already lost their jobs. Around 65%
of Russian people don't have any savings at all. The Pandemic of Fear is
taking a heavy toll.

The Russian government has already taken measures to support unemployed
people, important enterprises and medical workers. But it's clear that
they can't save all people.

As a citizen I want to know more concrete statistics about the severe
cases that lead to deaths. Do they really know who dies just because of
coronavirus or because they have pre-existing conditions that would have
led to their death in the not distant future? I want to see professional
epidemiologists and the scientists who are guiding the politicians
reveal more of their doubts about the way of counting deaths, as they
have in Sweden. They are the ones who can stop the hysteria in the media
and in everyday discourse. In Sweden, where the chief epidemiologist
Anders Tegnell and the head of the Public Health Agency Johan Carlson
make the important decisions and not the government - as the
constitution mandates - they are balancing the choice between the
progress of the disease on one side and the effect on the economy and
human stability, even sanity, on the other. The death rate in world
terms is relatively low although it is somewhat higher than neighbouring
Denmark, Norway and Finland but the economy is still doing rather better
and people feel less threatened by the possibility of unemployment, a
big recession and
a social crisis.

I don't want to live in this non-stop atmosphere of fear in Russia where
politicians are following the Western pattern and seemingly reacting
spontaneously to this crisis.

We will be able to analyze all that happened and all the unprecedented
measures that were taken only when this pandemic is over and we get back
to our normal lives. But we won't be able to revise the cost we paid for
our mistakes. So maybe we should think first and then act, leaving our
Pandemic of Fear behind.