Russian x-risks newsletter March 2020 – coronavirus update

by avturchin1 min read27th Mar 2020No comments

11

Coronavirus
Personal Blog

Russia recently attracted attention as it reported fewer CV cases than other countries. Probably the best explanation is under-reporting and under-testing. Other explanations are shorter life expectancy and higher home temperature.

Russia government is taking some measures against coronavirus, but they seem to be not radical or effective. Testing is not widespread, though some private companies are allowed to test now, as of March 26. Before it, only 3 consequent positive tests including the one in Novosibirsk Vector (the military bio lab where was an explosion in fall 2019 and which preserves a collection of deadly viruses) were needed to establish Сovid-19 officially. It created a backlog of testing. Also, mostly the people returned from abroad were tested, not locals, which created an illusion of no local transmission. 

One may expect that Putin would act cruelly to stop the pandemic, maybe even put lions on the streets as in one meme, but he acted very mildly, not in Modi style.

From 28 of March national holiday is declared, which is not lockdown (lockdown requires to waive rents and the state may have to pay for it, which it doesn’t want). Many people are parting on warmer areas, and the spring is surprising early and warm. Cafe and parks will be closed from tomorrow. From my observations, only starting from today, I can see a significant number of people in masks on streets (like 10-20 per cent). People above 65 are not allowed to go out and some were fined, but many still out. Schools are online. 

Several facts about CV in Russia:

  • As of 27 of March: Russia: 1036 cases, 703 in Moscow.
  • Age of recent CV deaths in Russia: 45m (abroad, in Cuba, diabetic), 70, 73, 79f (died from clot), 88, 56f (+cancer).
  • The reaction to the pandemic was delayed because they didn’t want to spoil important voting on new constitution April 22. Now it postponed.
  • The official number is growing, but not as a quick exponent like in NY. May grow more after testing will be expanded.
  • Male median life expectancy in Russia (not median age) is 67. vs 80 in Italy. May result in fewer deaths. 
  • Russia typically has a warmer temperature in houses: 25 C is the norm. It may kill virus indoors. Italy doesn’t have heating in winter.

Russia decided to go in the oil war with Saudi and US shale which was an obvious mistake. Global demand failed 15 Mb because of CV, and Russia’s export of 5 Mb could be completely replaced by export from Arab countries. Oil prices could be even negative short term. It also means no investment in oil production in the world and could result in oil shortages in 3-5 years from now, as existing wells decline 5-10 per cent a year. Not clear, how CV will affect renewables. 

Russia has limited the export of grain and some outs to keep internal prices lower. Russia is exporting 10-20 per cent of world wheat. There is a long term tradition of hoarding in Russia and many people bought 1-3 month supply of food including flour.

Coronavirus2
Personal Blog

11