On March 25, TASS reported that Russia send 15 military aircraft to deliver specialist and equipment to help Italy in the fight against its coronavirus epidemic.
This included 600 ventilators. Although Russia’s ventilator situation is pretty good by international standards, it still represents an investment of over 10% of Moscow’s ventilator stock of 5,000 units as well as almost a month’s worth of its ventilator production capacity. There is a non-negligible chance that it will be needing those ventilators itself in a few weeks’ time. On the other hand, this does represent a very significant upgrade to Italy’s ventilator stock, which stands at just 5,000 units – with the result that a policy of triage has in practice for the past two weeks, with over 65 year olds being denied usage of ventilators. (Although the recent story of the 72 year old Italian priest Don Giuseppe Berardelli giving up his ventilator to a younger man is very moving, the more banal reality is that the hospital in question had no spare ventilators in the first place).
So how does the Western commentariat thank Russia?
Why, by voting this to the top of /r/worldnews: Moscow Times – 80% of Russia’s Coronavirus Aid to Italy ‘Useless’ – La Stampa
“Eighty percent of Russian supplies are totally useless or of little use to Italy. In short, this is little more than a pretext,” an unnamed source told La Stampa.
The source said the Russian supplies consist of disinfection equipment, a field laboratory for sterilization and chemical prevention, and other similar tools.
La Stampa’s sources claimed that Putin is pursuing geopolitical and diplomatic opportunities with the aid package dubbed “From Russia With Love,” while Conte accepted the aid in order to secure a good personal relationship with Moscow.
Here is the original report by La Stampa.
Interestingly, both the Italian Ambassador to Russia Pasquale Terracciano…
“It is very important that all this medical equipment includes 600 ventilators, which are critically important at this stage of the epidemic,” the ambassador said in his address to compatriots in Russia, posted on the Italian diplomatic mission’s website.
… and the President of Lombardy Attilio Fontana disagreed.
“I say thanks to the Russians who sent us doctors and other people who can help with disinfection,” he told an online press conference.
The reason I am covering this beyond highlighting yet another tidbit of what might be legitimately described as Western fake news – who are we to trust, two Italian authority figures, or “unnamed sources”? – is that this same 80% figure had cropped up before.
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Czech news site on Monday (March 23) revealed that 80 percent of the much-touted traunch of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid test kits “donated” from China are faulty, forcing healthcare workers to rely on conventional laboratory tests.
On March 18, as is the case with many of its other quasi charitable acts, Chinese state-run mouthpieces used the verbs “supplied” and “delivered” to give the impression that the communist regime was donating 150,000 portable, rapid COVID-19 test kits to the Czech Republic. In fact, the central European nation’s Health Ministry paid some 14 million crowns (US$546,000) for 100,000 test kits, while the country’s Interior Ministry footed the bill for another 50,000, reported Expats.cz.
The Czech report in question: Rychlotesty na koronavirus z Číny mají podle krajské hygieničky chybovost až 80 procent
It’s almost as if “somebody” is filling these out from a template and sending it out to their pocket media in the colonies.