Dmitry Nekrasov: “Humanity will not make the right conclusions about the fight against COVID-19”

Dmitry Nekrasov: “Humanity will not make the right conclusions about the fight against COVID-19”

11 June , 14:48
The current pandemic has clearly revealed the negative effects that arise when authorities try to take public opinion into account while taking difficult decisions.

Political scientist Dmitry Nekrasov found many contradictions in the history of the struggle of mankind with the current pandemic:

The story of the reaction of authorities around the world to the coronavirus pandemic will probably go down in textbooks as an example of consistently inadequate decision-making, under the influence of public sentiment.

In the overwhelming majority of countries that currently mitigate quarantine restrictions, the current situation with the epidemic (at least the total number of active cases, but many where the number of new cases per day) is noticeably worse than it was at the time when the most stringent quarantine measures were introduced.

At the time of the announcement of quarantine measures in Russia at the end of March, there were about 1,500 detected active cases in total, plus 300 new ones per day. Today, when measures are mitigated by active cases of the order of 250,000 and 8,000 new cases are detected daily. And Russia does not particularly stand out here. Spain, Italy and many others proceeded to mitigate the measures with orders of magnitude more infected than they were when the measures were introduced.

Thus, if we look at the problem from the point of view of formal logic, then a situation in which the introduction of measures and their subsequent mitigation were at the same time reasonable measures. Either a mistake was made during the introduction of measures, or is being made now.

Neither mathematical models of the spread of the virus, nor general expert knowledge on how to deal with epidemics, nor expert assessments of the state of the healthcare system or the economic consequences of the lockdown, nor public perception of the cost of human life, could undergo a significant change in two months.

Some part of the difference in decisions can be explained by a reasonable exaggeration of the new risk when it was just encountered, and by some increase in the available empirical data on the virus over the past 2-3 months. However, all this is suitable for explaining the difference in decisions in a situation that differs by tens of percent, with a stretch at times.

However, these explanations are in no way suitable for substantiating that you quarantine at 1,500 active patients and withdraw at 250,000. One of these solutions is absolutely not true.

And what has changed during this time? That's right - only and exclusively public moods: fears of the masses, their habit of living in an epidemic, boredom and so on. Those. complex socio-political systems with a host of political institutions, centers of expertise and specialized knowledge reacted to an extremely significant stimulus for these systems, just like a dumb crowd of frightened townsfolk. When making decisions in reality, it was not expert knowledge that was taken into account (they could not change so significantly), but the opinion of the townsfolk / voters, which is simply absurd to take into account in such situations. Absurd and counterproductive.

Moreover, with rare exceptions, developed democracies and countries with authoritarian political models shied from side to side in exactly the same way. Because authoritarian regimes are also very dependent on their popularity among the general public, and they try to respond to their fears and expectations.

This example is so laboratory refined and peeled of any ideological husk that it will be very difficult to talk with various stupid things. A clear illustration of the negative effects of taking public opinion into account when making complex decisions.

Although something tells me that humanity will not make the right conclusions from this example again...”

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