Growing like flu – Newspaper Kommersant No. 233 (7434) of 12/15/2022

On December 14, the President of Russia met with government members via video conference and first discussed the epidemiological situation in the country with them. She, as it turned out, is more than disturbing. With details about when it was necessary to get a flu shot, – a special correspondent of “Kommersant” Andrei Kolesnikov.

“I see that, unfortunately, we have SARS and influenza is growing, almost 30-35% per week, in my opinion,” Vladimir Putin told the meeting participants and turned to the head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova. “Anna Yuryevna, what is the situation today?

— Good afternoon, dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, dear colleagues! she said, appearing on the screen, and I even shuddered.

This phenomenon was so reminiscent of the covid times, which no one actually forgot, when Anna Popova and Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, at such weekly meetings with members of the government, always reported on the state of that months-long just liberation struggle against the coronavirus and on variable successes on this front, that as you remember, you will actually shudder.

On the other hand, the very appearance of these people on the screen has a therapeutic effect, or rather, a psychotherapeutic one – after all, the victory was ours, albeit, perhaps, a positional one.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich, you are certainly right, it is true, we see a tense epidemiological situation in the Russian Federation today,” Anna Popova said. “It is due to two epidemiological processes. This is an increase in the incidence of COVID, it is small, we are seeing it for the fourth week after the previous two-month decline, it is at the level of 10-11% every week, but it is there and it will continue.

There is no doubt about this confession, and thank God that such a confession followed: at least they do not hide it. For example, I confirm that not only my eight-month-old son just got sick with the coronavirus (he was the first to get sick, and we still can’t understand where he caught it), but also his mother, as well as both of her parents, that is, all four, and after vaccination. And do not think that covid is not the same as being weak, but we are strong: we were seriously ill.

The second epidemiological process, according to Anna Popova, is seasonal and very powerful:

– A pronounced increase in the amount of ARVI, a group of respiratory infections and influenza. In fact, week by week – plus 30-35%. The last, penultimate week – just this increase occurred both among the sick and among the hospitalized. Therefore, the epidemic situation with influenza and SARS causes more stress for the healthcare system today.

It seems that whatever Mrs. Popova says, whether you like it or not, will soothe and even lull you to sleep:

— I would like to note that since the beginning of November this year, the situation began to worsen in many countries of the world in the Northern Hemisphere. Our monitoring and surveillance system worked earlier – in October we discovered the first influenza viruses. And in the Russian Federation, the predominant influenza virus is the H1N1 influenza virus, it is added another 09, because this is a pandemic version of the 2009-2010 influenza. He then appeared for the first time, caused a rather severe pandemic, especially because at that time there was no vaccine, no specific medicine and treatment. Today, six years later – and the last time he showed high numbers in the 2015-2016 season – he returned to the Russian Federation and is prevailing.

But in fact, she said not only comforting, but inconsolable things. Influenza causes a severe pandemic and is able to leave mainly in order to return.

“We found him in October,” Anna Popova said of an old acquaintance, it seems, not even without sympathy, as a naughty and prankster who should be roughly punished. “Our monitoring system and the system of scientific research made it possible to evaluate him. We saw that the virus absolutely coincides with the vaccine strain. That is, what was used to prepare our four Russian vaccines is completely opposed to this variant of the influenza virus. And also this influenza virus has not changed its sensitivity to those drugs that are produced in the Russian Federation and are specific for this particular influenza virus.

The most effective Russian vaccines are, as you know, four-component, while the five-component is already common in the West. But in these and especially in other matters, the West, as you know, has long been no decree.

“In preparation for the current situation, measures were taken to vaccinate the population against influenza,” Anna Popova said. “All vaccines were made on time. Since September, we have started vaccination, in three months almost 52% of the population of the Russian Federation was vaccinated – this is 75,100,000 people.

This was optimistic information, but only if you realize that you are in the 52%, and not in the remaining 48%.

“Today we can talk,” Anna Popova continued, “of the high effectiveness of vaccination, because among those who fall ill with laboratory-confirmed influenza … unfortunately, not all cases of influenza are laboratory examined today, I will talk about this a little later … more than 300… Only 300! That is, it is a very small percentage – less than 1%! – which speaks about the effectiveness of our measures.

Unfortunately, all this in each individual case is confirmed (or refuted) only experimentally.

Meanwhile, Anna Popova seemed even ruthless. After all, she began to talk about manifestations with which, apparently, she did not want to upset at the beginning:

“At the same time, I would like to note that, as in the whole world, today we are noticing a high activity of viruses of non-influenza etiology. In the general structure of the viruses that we isolate, we see a high proportion of rhinoviruses – about 10%; respiratory syncytial viruses and metapneumoviruses: the first – 10%, the second – 7%. These are viruses that, unfortunately, often cause pneumonia in the future. Their increase in the total share is also atypical so far for the Russian Federation. The same is happening all over the world. Previously, we have not observed such large specific values.

She explained the main danger in treatment:

– This requires a special assessment technique and, most importantly, differential diagnosis. It is very important for us today to distinguish between COVID, flu and other viral infections, because the treatment is fundamentally opposite. If you treat the flu, you need one scheme, if you treat COVID, another scheme, and you can’t make a mistake here.

And there is no doubt that one will still be mistaken for the other from time to time.

“Considering also that COVID today occurs in more than 90% in the form of SARS, the beginning is the same,” Anna Popova continued to explain in detail, and this was the best thing she could do, “the operational headquarters under the leadership of Tatyana Alekseevna Golikova decided that to use the regimen that was adopted for COVID testing for influenza testing. We assessed the possibilities: there are opportunities, the equipment with laboratory equipment is quite good. Domestic tests, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and what we see on the market, are enough. Therefore, today it is quite possible to start testing for the detection of influenza in everyone, just like for COVID, who has a clinic for acute respiratory viral infections. In this way, we will reduce the risks for these people.

And here, of course, no objections. Test us as you wish, as you wish – just identify, please, and distinguish ARVI from the flu, and even more so from covid.

About covid was said separately:

– In November-December, we were and now are in 106th place in the world in terms of incidence. The incidence is low, it is five times less than a year earlier than in November last year (this is still; and just in November last year it was too high.— A.K.), but it still causes us some concern. Therefore, we keep testing at the level of 250-300 thousand studies per day. This is enough today to clearly identify all the sick. We remain in the top ten countries in the world in terms of testing coverage.

At least it is believed. But not everyone. There is no doubt that the ranks of antivaxers, formed two years ago, will now be replenished by those who know all too well about the flu shot.

– The strain that causes tension in Europe – the so-called BQ1 and BQ1.1 – is detected in the Russian Federation in isolated cases: less than 1% of the total number of studies, while in Spain – 78%, in France – almost 60% and in Germany – 16%, – continued Ms. Popova, – but we do not see a significant impact on the epidemiological situation in these countries. But at the same time, the risks are associated with the fact that today a specific treatment for this genovariant has not yet been proposed by our scientists.

However, the contacts of Russians with Western countries are now in such a state that there is nothing to worry about. And those who leave are in no hurry to return and prefer to replenish the sad statistics there.

Anna Popova did not keep silent about the current:

— Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, we are also involving new territories. We organized epidemiological surveillance and epidemiological monitoring in four new territories. They are connected to all our analytical systems, and weekly, several times a week, we hold seminars. Colleagues are very interested in getting involved in our regulatory framework!

In this situation, it is then a matter of daily achievement. They are testing, one might say, on the front line, or those who are on the front line, because all new territories are one way or another. And SARS or even the flu is not the worst thing that can happen to a person on the front line or even in the very center of Donetsk. So it could be covid.

“Today, in order to minimize the risk, as a preventive measure, a routine measure, well-known and familiar, but quite effective, is the separation of children,” Anna Popova added.

As is well known, the country was in disunity for more than two years. And here is this great word sounded again. And the “separation of children”… Well, it sounds scary or just scary, but, apparently, this is inevitable and will lead to a result.

“Suspension of the educational process,” Ms. Popova also said. “This measure is introduced taking into account the actual incidence. In the absence of 20% of children in a class, school or kindergarten in a group, this class and school are quarantined, the children are separated (these heartbreaking details are not needed! – A.K.). This prevents the virus from spreading either among children or to other age groups – neither to the older ones, nor to the younger ones! To date, the educational process has been partially suspended in almost 600 schools and 12,662 classes. These measures will continue.

Yes, children will be separated.

“Thank you,” the Russian president said knowingly, for he added: “Remember, I asked you a few days ago: “Should I be vaccinated or not?” You told me: “Yes, we must do it.” I report: I did it yesterday.

– Thank you very much for this! Anna Popova thanked him.

And then who will thank whom.

“I advise all my colleagues too,” Vladimir Putin said. “Today I went in for sports in the morning, as usual, in the usual way, everything is fine, without any questions!”

Vladimir Putin did not explain what he was vaccinated against, but from the context of the conversation, it is clear that it was against the flu. This was confirmed to me later by the presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov.

The problem, perhaps, is only that at the beginning of last week, Anna Popova, in an interview with Naila Asker-zade on the Rossiya 24 TV channel, said: “This week, those who have not yet been vaccinated need to be vaccinated. And on the next (that is, on this, current.— A.K.) that would be too late.”

And on Wednesday, on the radio KP, she stated: “Now it’s too late and it’s not necessary.”

Now this statement sounded especially sharp.

However, Anna Popova may have an alibi: the president himself said that he asked her “a few days ago.”

Then it might not have been too late.

And now everything.

Andrey Kolesnikov

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