Central Asian Nations Beg Russia For Help With Coronavirus – Part II

Dear Readers:

Continuing with this story by reporter Evgeny Pogrebnyak.  Where we left off, we were looking at the experience of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in handling the coronavirus pandemic.  In this part of the world, including Russia, Covid seems to go hand in hand with Pneumonia.  I don’t know who is right, because Russian medical experts believe that the coronavirus infection can lead to Pneumonia, but American experts don’t think so.

In any case, when Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan combined their statistics for Covid and Pneumonia, they found that the numbers had doubled.  As in Russia, the majority of doctors believe that a Covid-19 infection can directly lead to pneumonia.  On the other hand, when they specifically test for the coronavirus (in these pneumonia patients), the tests come up negative.  So, this is a mystery.

The beautiful city of Uralsk, Kazakhstan

A group of Russian doctors are helping out in the Kazakhstan city of Uralsk.  When they noticed patients flooding into the local hospitals with symptoms of pneumonia, this all looked very familiar to them:  “We saw infections exactly like this in Russia,” stated Doctor Sergei Drachuk.  “We diagnosed them as Coronavirus Pneumonia without the confirmation of a covid-positive test.”

Local authorities were eventually forced to admit the bitter truth:  There were more sick people than they initially thought; and the tests frequently give false negatives for the coronavirus.

The only way to cure a serious case of pneumonia is with specialized medical equipment.  Of which there was not enough to go around.  Individuals started donating equipment from Western Europe by just sending it in packages through the mail.  And the same with Russia:  There are a lot of Central Asian guest workers in Russia (primarily in Moscow), who started filling boxes with medicines and shipping them back home.  Social media was enlisted to urge people to make these kinds of donations.

As for the Russian government, from the very start of the epidemic, the authorities have been helping their neighbors in any way they can.  For example, with humanitarian assistance which, nonetheless, is insufficient, due to the sharp rise in cases.  On July 18 the Kyrgyzstan government announced a new tranche of humanitarian aid arriving from Russia.  This aid consists of 31 ventilators, 70 bedside monitors, 5 mobile X-ray machines, 6 ultrasound devices, and half a million surgical masks.

The Contrast

One thing this crisis had made painfully obvious to the Central Asian governments, is that their healthcare systems are not as sturdy as that of the Russian Federation.  In Russia the covid crisis is on a downward slope; and moreover Russia never, even at the height of the crisis, experienced a shortage of medications.  Journalist Yury Dorokhov wrote in his social media about his impressions:

Yury Dorokhov [I think this is the same guy]

“My very first hours after arriving in Russia from Kazakhstan, was like a shock to me.  It was like returning from the front lines of a war to the [peaceful] rear guard.  People [in Russia] are relaxed and calm.  They don’t even seem stressed out.  I went into a pharmacy.  Another shock:  They have EVERYTHING.  Well, you need a doctor’s prescription, to be sure.  I felt a crazy desire to buy up everything in the store and ship it back to Alma-Ata.”

Dorokhov thinks that in Russia covid is sort of “old news” by now.  Which cannot be said in regard to the neighboring state:  “The Kazakhstan version of Facebook is full of curses, complaints, obituaries.  Russian Facebook:  vacations and travel, the riots in Khabarovsk, Putin’s political game, fun videos, we went to a cafe, that sort of thing.  In Alma-Ata, the only thing people are talking about is the coronavirus.  I have a ton of acquaintances who are sick with covid or this strange strain of pneumonia.  Everybody I know personally is still alive — knock on wood — but many have friends or relatives who passed away.”

When asked why such a contrast between Russia and Kazakhstan, two neighboring countries, the journalist was at a loss to explain:  “I have no idea.  Russia is not that different from Kazakhstan when it comes to the form of government or political system.  In Russia people don’t steal or take bribes?  It’s funny to even ask the question.  And yet the difference in the epidemiological situation is colossal.  I have discussed this with ethnic Russians from Kazakhstan who know the situation in both countries very well.  Their theory is that Russia’s massive use of PCR [Polymerase Chain Reaction] system of testing for covid might be the difference-maker.  Or maybe something in Russia has remained of the old Soviet school of epidemiology.  I don’t know the answer to this question.”

[yalensis:  I think one of the reasons, as we discussed before, is the legacy, in Russia, of Soviet-style inpatient facilities, with lots of beds and inpatient-type equipment.  Which is costly infrastructure and often goes unused, but comes in quite handy during an epidemic.  And is an important lesson to be learned:  Don’t put all your eggs in the Outpatient Clinic model, because you just never know…]

The exact same contrast has been noted between Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

[to be continued]

This entry was posted in Friendship of Peoples, Medicine and Health and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Central Asian Nations Beg Russia For Help With Coronavirus – Part II

  1. James lake says:

    I don’t know what PCR is and I’m not a medical person

    I have real sympathy for Countries struggling with the pandemic it’s such a shame that there has been no global unity to tackle it. It has been every country for themselves in many cases

    Those countries that have tackled the pandemic well took it seriously from the start.

    Tackling COVID19 needs early intervention to stop it progressing to the lungs, so you don’t end up on a Ventilator. Which is not a good outcome

    Early intervention is only possible if you test widely. And track and trace any people who come into contact with an infected person.

    Special attention needs to be paid to high risk groups – so that they are not exposed to the infection.

    High risk groups; elderly, those with Existing health conditions and people who are overweight apparently.

    I live in the UK and our response has been terrible to say the least because we didn’t do any of these things resulting in high deaths.

    Boris Johnson and our government despite what we saw happening in China didn’t take it seriously.

    When they did take it seriously a lot of people already died and it’s caused a lot of fear here. Lockdown didn’t really work

    They are trying to encourage people back outside and back to work but people are still wary because they still doesn’t seem to be a system in place to tackle the pandemic which is still here.

    I am worried about the other consequences of lockdown

    It seems to have affected young people. They have not liked the social isolation, we are seeing some signs of social unrest. Police have been called to break up illegal gatherings as we are still supposed to not meet in large groups

    Unemployment is rising and city shopping centres are empty

    It will take a while for people to regain the confidence to go out as we once did the media are trying to change the subject – we had a royal wedding and Royal family scandal filling the papers. We have had the “Russia report” It accuses Russia Interfering in British elections and Brexit!!!


    • yalensis says:

      Hi, James,
      PCR stands for “Polymerase Chain Reaction”, it is a type of test for the coronavirus RNA sequence..
      According to my understanding (I am not a biologist), they take a swab of your nasal mucus and test it for the Coronavirus RNA pattern, to come up with a percentage of probability that you have been infected.

      Most reputable scientists seem to feel that extensive PCR testing, along with mandating public wearing of facial masks, constitutes the best statistical outcomes for dealing with the pandemic.
      England took a different approach from certain other nations, which may have been a bad idea, in retrospect. Or maybe not. Only history will judge.

      On the other hand, the Covid virus is not that lethal, all things considered, so maybe other countries overreacted in shutting everything down and destroying the world economy.
      Maybe it would have been enough to mandate face masks (in public) and some common sense measures. The number of infections is quite high, but the number of deaths not egregiously high, everything is relative, of course.

      I don’t have any answers.


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