The coronavirus outbreak is set to peak only in late April or early May 2020, it was stated by Mikhail Kirpichnikov, doctor of biological sciences and academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), in an interview with the newspaper Parliamentskaya Gazeta. During this period, he says, the country will experience a huge spike in coronavirus cases and fatalities.
“Then we will reach a plateau. How long that will last is difficult to say. Above all, it’s vital to comply with the government’s sanitary and epidemiological measures,” he says.
A total of 20-25,000 COVID-19 cases are expected to be recorded when the pandemic peaks in Moscow, suggests infectious disease specialist and RAS academician Viktor Maleev, who is also an adviser to the director of the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia's federal service for well-being.
In his opinion, even when Moscow is over the peak, the number of infections in the regions will continue to grow.
The Russian authorities are hoping for more optimistic forecasts. Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova stated on April 12 that the first effects of self-isolation can be expected to be felt starting April 14-16.
“We want the situation to plateau first. April 14–16 could be a kind of watershed moment that defines whether we level off or continue to see growth,” said the deputy prime minister.
According to Golikova, there is no chance of Russia being out of the woods by Victory Day, May 9. She forecasts that the restrictive measures will not be removed until June 2020. However, even that will be possible only if Russians strictly observe the self-isolation regime.
Viktor Maleev agrees that the spread of coronavirus could end in June 2020, with the hedge that this is the “most optimistic” forecast.
Professor Anatoly Alstein, MD, notes that Russia will have defeated coronavirus only when 14 days have passed after the last patient recovers. He argues too that self-isolation cannot be lifted everywhere at once.
“The epidemic might still be lingering, and some pockets will remain. There will need to be testing and a partial self-isolation regime for certain categories of people. There will be no abrupt return to normal life,” Alstein is sure.
A user of habr.com, a Russian collaborative blog about IT, developed a mathematical model predicting that the pandemic would peak in 37 days (that is, early May), and that the number of serious cases would exceed 100,000 per day.
“The number of coronavirus patients in Russia is increasing by more than 25% daily. That means 10 times in 10 days, 1,000 times a month. At this rate, in a month we’ll have hundreds of thousands of patients. The most stringent quarantine measures will be able to cut the daily growth rate by half to 13% (as in Italy, for example). But the quarantine is ruining the economy and not achieving the goal of reducing the burden on the health system to an acceptable level,” explains the author.
In his view, only the strict isolation of elderly people and chronic patients in boarding houses and rest homes can help reduce the daily rate of incidence. In this case, he calculates the number of infections can be cut to 8,700 per day.
“A strict regime should be introduced. Health workers should not be local and not leave quarantine themselves, and it should be enforced by the National Guard. The first two weeks of quarantine must be in total isolation. For other residents of Russia, the quarantine can be lifted or relaxed,” he believes.
Roman Trotsenko, owner of the investment holding AEON Corporation, during the “Business after the Pandemic” online summit held on April 9, said that 30% of businesses in Russia would cease to exist.
People themselves expect to see a fall in income and plan to spend less for a few years to come, asserts Trotsenko.
Moreover, many companies that transitioned their employees to home working will continue this practice even after the epidemic, believes Denis Sokolov, partner and head of research at Cushman & Wakefield, a global commercial real estate services firm. Many mass events and forums will also be transferred online, believes Sokolov.
Many non-food stores too will become virtual, and the vacant premises in shopping malls will start being rented as cosharing spaces for remote workers, says Ruben Enikolopov, rector of the New Economic School. He believes that coworking will mushroom not only in city centers, but in residential areas as well.
Regular schools will go back to offline teaching, Enikolopov is sure, but parents will enroll their children in more online courses.
Lastly, Russia will have to invest more in health and medicine.
“Today, we see as never before the risks faced by countries with inadequate health care unable to respond to emerging threats. The crisis in Russia could be less severe if we had, for example, a more advanced system for diagnosing diseases,” argues Enikolopov.
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