The COVID-19 pandemic: making the same mistakes
The COVID-19 pandemic: making the same mistakes

The attempts to find a scapegoat are our common mentality. We are trying to “look for the extreme” in any force majeure circumstances. We try to relieve ourselves of responsibility and shift it to anyone.

This spring has brought people another test, as it once was, back in 1986. The early spring of 2020 enveloped the planet with another invisible threat – the coronovirus. The COVID-19 pandemic, like radiation in 1986, is an unexpected and insidious challenge to medicine, science, and humanity.

Swollen buds on trees and shrubs are about to burst in anticipation of real heat, they hid for a while, waiting for small night frosts. Fresh air smells in spring, portends recovery and new hope. There is no suspicion that this spring may bring death to someone.

We walk with caution, look around – we have quarantined ourselves, sensible and law-abiding, carefully wash our hands, try to cleanse ourselves of an invisible enemy again and again, look for secluded places where you can hide or run away from the virus.

We are considering what pill to give to our children in order to effectively protect them from COVID-19. Some stock up on toilet paper and groceries, some ironically chuckle at the radical methods that the government declares. Is it possible to trust all this, or perhaps it is easier to resort to sedative methods and, according to tradition, shift the blame onto someone else, as it was in the spring of 1986? There are enough culprits, the Chinese, for example.

Then, in the spring of 1986, when the reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and the wind scattered deadly radiation in all directions, we fought with uncertainty, anxiety and fear, because we knew practically nothing about what happened at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, especially at first. There were only rumors, conversations at kitchen and neighborhood chatter. Only a few tried to separate the wheat from the chaff, tried to search for sources so as not to confuse the fact with propaganda and deal with the silent and invisible threat that was looming with the wind.

The fear and danger posed by the coronavirus are justified, but, according to some experts, exaggerated. The current threat is different. The radiation after the Chernobyl explosion did not turn into a virus or pathogen. The location of the coronavirus can spread across the planet with the speed of a jet Boeing, and from person to person at the slightest touch.

Radiation from the blazing 4th unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was sent exclusively to where it was carried by the wind, and any quarantine or social self-isolation were useless in the fight against radiation contamination.

Two disasters have common signs

First of all, it is a disgusting feeling of helplessness and vulnerability to an invisible enemy. There is the inner conscious fear that this enemy is most likely somewhere very close, probably very close, or has already taken possession of your body and subconscious. And also disappointment in the understanding that science, and in particular medicine, was taken by surprise, scientists were not ready for the next test.

The Chernobyl accident occurred at a critical moment in the history of the former USSR. Only a year before, Mikhail Gorbachev, having come to power, took up the implementation of reforms with the help of “publicity” and “perestroika”. However, as soon as a tragedy occurred in Ukraine and the exploding reactor began to spew deadly radiation, the Soviet system returned again to its previous methods of work such as lies, information manipulation and a regime of total unreasonable secrecy. It was time before the Kremlin, frightened by international isolation initiated by the Scandinavian authorities, even began to acknowledge that a catastrophe had indeed occurred in the Union.

The first official government message aired according to the classic scenario of a totalitarian regime: “There was an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Measures are being taken to eliminate the consequences. The assistance was provided to victims. A special government commission has been created.”

By that time, people had already learned to read between the lines: brief wording about the “commission” and “measures” spoke of the disaster and instilled an understanding that life was in danger. The country made a laconic diagnosis of the entire state system – an unprecedented lie above the life of its own people.

Rushing all the way to a brighter future, the propaganda machine instantly began to lose speed and control over its own history. The leadership of the USSR was forced to let the facts about the disaster at the Chernobyl NPP leak into the social space. Nevertheless, the old, proven over the years, habit of blaming the West for everything has not gone anywhere.

Lee Wenling and Valery Legasov told the world the truth

Authorities insisted on the Americans and Europeans using the Chernobyl accident to undermine confidence in the USSR and spread a “hate campaign”. Following a similar practice, the authoritarian leadership of China reacted in a similar way to the spread of the coronavirus in Wuhan. But Beijing’s ability to control the leak of information, especially in the age of information globalization, is much less than the USSR had in 1986, where information technology was not even in its infancy.

Apparently it was precisely the desire to convey information and prevent a second Chernobyl that caused worldwide sympathy for the dead Chinese doctor Li Wenling, who was the first to tell the world about an outbreak of a new disease, that’s why he was accused by Chinese officials of “gross undermining of public order”.

This proves the futility of the authorities’ attempts to control the information space. The logic that Dr. Lee’s warning helped to contain the virus faster and better is absolutely obvious. Against this background, it is very clearly possible to draw a parallel between Lee Wenling and Valery Legasov, who, at the cost of his own life, told the world the truth about what happened at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. Such different people and such similar destinies.

Since independent media around the world, like the most professional medical establishment, did not “gotcha” the initial reassuring slogans that COVID-19 is an ordinary flu, the world community, which, having learned the real picture of coronovirus infection, has a chance not to give themselves long fool around. Everyone quickly realized that the life of the world’s population has been in danger.

We will experience the consequences of the “radiation pandemic” in 1986 a tremendous amount of time, but at the same time, the gravity of the coronavirus can be stopped by humankind through tough quarantine measures, through personal hygiene and social responsibility.

Today, information about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, about testing a vaccine against this strain of influenza is available even to a schoolboy, attempts to accuse anyone of being infected from abroad are at least disappointing and speak more about social irresponsibility and the absence of elementary political and human decency.

Isn’t it easier to follow your own hygiene instead of ridiculous accusations and aggravation of the situation? How not to give in to self-irony and not to joke about what future strains of viral diseases would probably be worth even coming up with to make humanity more often think about the cleanliness of not only their own hands, but also remember about the disinfection of other organs, including thoughts in the head.

For the USSR, the Chernobyl accident became a rubicon, beyond which the death of a system was already visible, in which society did not live, but existed, artificially supported by fear, prohibitions, and dictatorship. But even today, in the early days of spring, almost 34 years after the Chernobyl disaster, faced with yet another planetary disaster, society asks one and the same pressing question – are they telling us the whole truth?