Moscow Mayor: “There are significantly more coronavirus cases than reported”
Russia has started bulk purchasing testing kits, intending to test tens of thousands of people daily. Experts are pessimistic
The real number of infected people in Moscow is much higher than the official statistics show, announced Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Official data from the morning of March 25 states that there are 495 cases of coronavirus in Russia.
“At present, there are about 500 cases [in Moscow alone]. And that’s just a fraction of them — there are still the unconfirmed cases. The number of people who are actually sick is much higher.
In the regions, there are very few people being tested, so no one knows the real picture,” said Sobyanin.
The Moscow mayor is being heavily criticized for the fact that the only people with access to testing services are those who have returned home from high-risk countries.
But the Moscow authorities are only acting according to the rules adopted at the national level.
However, it is expected that the situation will change within a few days.
On March 20, the Russian government approved a document that will allow them to purchase testing kits to diagnose coronavirus using a simplified method.
Only one company received a license to supply tests – SmartLifeCare. This company purchases tests from the Russian-Japanese company Evotech-Mirai Genomix, which is owned by the Japanese K.K. Mirai Genomics.
The contract may have attracted the interest of a large business with connections to the authorities. As the BBC found out, SmartLifeCare intends to invest in the Russian Direct Investment Fund. And in this fund, the majority shareholder is Alexei Kozlov, who is a member of the board of Sibur Holding, the largest petrochemical company in Russia.
Reportedly, the Moscow City Hall has already bought test systems and tests for 192 million rubles [about $ 2.5 million] from SmartLifeCare.
In a few days, the government plans to start conducting up to 10 thousand tests per day in Moscow.
Nine testing laboratories have been opened in the Russian capital for this purpose.
Ideally, the city will be able to conduct up to 25-28 thousand tests per day, a source at the city hall told BBC.
Russia shares a border with China, which has not yet been closed. Until recently, borders with other countries where the coronavirus pandemic spread rapidly also remained open.
Experts expect that mass testing of Russians will give a more real, and considerably more pessimistic picture of the coronavirus in Russia.