A national scandal took place in Russia yesterday, September 21. The story started with an official announcement of the first swine flu victim in the Russian Federation.
The head of the Institute of Virology, Academician Dmitry Lvov, said yesterday that a female resident of the Moscow region died of the A/H1N1 virus. Russia’s Surgeon General Gennady Onishchenko said during the day that the information was not true to fact. Onishcheniko said that Mr. Lvov was an “informational terrorist.” Russia’s Ministry for Social Development and the profile committee of the State Duma joined the scandal too.
The official announcement about the first victim of swine flu in Russia was made yesterday on the air of Russia TV. Academician Dmitry Lvov said that a female resident of the Moscow region had caught the virus during her trip to Bulgaria and subsequently died. The woman, the academician added, infected several patients and personnel of the hospital where she was receiving medical treatment.
“Swine fly is already among us,” the academician said. Mr. Lvov added that there were tens of thousands of people infected with swine flu in Russia. However, the official information says that there are 381 patients as of the beginning of September.
The woman was 46 years old, The Kommersant newspaper wrote. She spent a holiday in Bulgaria at the end of July and was hospitalized with pneumonia on August 8.
Surgeon General Gennady Onishchenko stated yesterday that the woman, identified only as ‘patient M.’ had a whole bouquet of other diseases in addition to pneumonia.
“Each of those diagnoses is enough for long-standing and tormenting treatment,” Onishchenko said.
Doctors took blood samples from the woman on August 18 and sent the sample to the Moscow-based Institute for Virology. Patient M. died of pulmonary insufficiency the same day, several hours after the blood sample analysis.
The results of the blood sample analysis were ready on August 26. They showed that patient M. had swine influenza antibodies in her blood.
“I saw the paper. However, instead of sending it to the hospital, where the patient died, Academician Lvov faxed it straight to the Healthcare Ministry,” Onischenko said.
Surgeon General also said that the medical examination of other patients and the hospital staff, whom patient M. may have contacted, did not return any positive results to A/H1N1 antibodies.
As a result, Onishchenko said that Mr. Lvov’s statement on national television was “an act of informational terrorism.”
Olga Borzova, the chairwoman of the Healthcare Committee of the Russian Parliament, released a special statement yesterday too.
“One should bear in mind the fact that the death rate of this type of flu is a lot lower in the world than that of common influenza. Therefore, there is no reason to aggravate the situation,” the official said.
Viktor Maleyev , Russia ’s chief infectiologist, said that Academician Lvov did not provide the required evidence in his statement.
“Any first lethal outcome or any disease must be proved meticulously, but we have not seen that,” Mr. Maleyev said.