Russia’s coronavirus information chief implied on Tuesday that victims of the coronavirus had met their destiny, assuring Russians that the nation’s coronavirus outbreak should not worry them because death is inevitable, the Moscow Times reported.
The government official’s remarks preceded Russia reporting on Wednesday the second-highest number of Chinese coronavirus cases in the world.
The infection will still take its toll, and we’ll all get it. Those meant to die will die. Everyone dies. Even if it’s coronavirus, so what? Of course, you need to get a test to avoid infecting others, but you do understand it’s an illusion. We’ll run out of tests if everyone runs out to check after every sneeze.
After his interview aired, Russian media shared Myasnikov’s statement. He has since faced criticism from the Russian public for his seemingly callous remarks. On Tuesday night, the TV doctor defended his views via social media, accusing the Russian press of taking his words out of the context of the interview. Myasnikov said his statement was intended to impart confidence to his audience, as many Russians may be experiencing “uncertainty and fear of tomorrow.”
“There’s no need to waste energy and destroy your psyche with panic. We’re all mortal by dint of our existence,” the doctor wrote in a statement posted to his Telegram account late Tuesday. “The fact that a person is mortal shouldn’t darken the days of our, alas, fleeting life. We should just live and enjoy this life.”
In mid-April, the Kremlin appointed Myasnikov as the head of Russia’s Coronavirus Information Center, a position that Myasnikov had reportedly already assumed unofficially prior to the announcement, BBC Russia reported. As Information Chief, Myasnikov’s responsibilities include informing the public about treatment and prevention methods for the Chinese coronavirus as well as combating “fake news” surrounding the virus. Additionally, the cardiologist leads the Health, Demography, and Social Policy Commission of the Moscow Public Chamber.
According to BBC Russia, Myasnikov works closely with Moscow leadership. He assisted Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin as an adviser during the city’s 2018 mayoral election and also served as an adviser to President Vladimir Putin during Russia’s 2018 presidential election.
The radio and TV personality has previously been known for his positive spin on Russia’s coronavirus outbreak.
In early February, he said that the emergence of the coronavirus might be beneficial for Russians because it encouraged people to increase hygienic practices such as hand washing and to start wearing sanitary masks in public, according to the report. He then said he believed there was a “zero percent” chance of the coronavirus spreading in Russia. He deemed the country’s coronavirus death rate at the time a “Russian miracle” for being remarkably low. Russian officials have been accused of drastically undercounting and underreporting the nation’s true number of the coronavirus infections and deaths.
“The coronavirus epidemic will come to naught, I think, by mid-April,” Myasnikov erroneously predicted in March, when he described the coronavirus pandemic as a “seasonal phenomenon.” Two weeks later, Myasnikov backtracked on this statement, encouraging Russians to patiently wait for “herd immunity” to pervade the population and protect people from the virus, according to BBC Russia’s report.
In mid-April, the American-trained medical doctor said that Russia’s healthcare system was better prepared to take on the coronavirus pandemic than Western healthcare systems, a claim that has been disproven in recent weeks as Russia’s hospitals have been overwhelmed by the national outbreak. The Russian government has failed to provide its healthcare workers with basic personal protective equipment (PPE), causing doctors and nurses to quit in protest. In late April, President Putin admitted Russia had a “deficit of all sorts” of medical equipment as it prepared for a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
At press time on Wednesday, Russia had officially recorded 308,705 coronavirus infections and 2,972 deaths from the Chinese coronavirus.