Oleg Barabanov, Pandemic and Climate, History and Values: Results of the Valdai Club Expert Programme, 28 December 2021
In 2021, the coronavirus pandemic continued to be one of the most important events. Naturally, its influence on world politics and society remained the main focus of the Valdai Discussion Club experts.
The pandemic and its socio-political consequences, even after the release of this book, remained the centre of attention of the Club’s experts in 2021. One of the topics was the global Covid-19 vaccination policy. Roman Reinhardt analysed vaccine diplomacy and its contradictions . Djoomart Otorbaev warned against being overly optimistic that the vaccine would solve all problems. The complex issue of the impact of vaccination on human rights was also raised in our publications. In July 2021, a special Valdai Club conference was dedicated to this problem, with the participation of experts from the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.
Another important topic was the social impact of the pandemic. Apostolos Veizis in his article “From Sprint to Marathon” raised the issue of the long-term impact of the pandemic on socially vulnerable groups: the poor, refugees and other marginalised people. Ekaterina Savorskaya considered the paradoxes of the pandemic’s influence on green transformation; as these two seemingly unrelated things share many indirect connections. Richard Sakwa turned to the analysis of value categories and studied the impact of the pandemic on the perception of the concept of the common good, and on the dynamics of interaction between civil society and the state. Also in the focus of our attention was the attitude of citizens to medical assessments and forecasts regarding the pandemic, the problem of doctors’ participation in political strategies to calm society used by the authorities, and its possible ethical ambivalence. This issue was closely related to the problem of citizens’ trust in the authorities, the psychological and behavioural alienation of society from the state and the formation of the concept of what we called “medical totalitarianism”. We analysed this concept in the context of Michel Foucault’s well-known theory of “biopower”. This set of problems was reflected in the relevant sections of the large annual report of the Valdai Discussion Club, titled “The Age of Pandemic: Year Two. The Future Is Back”, published in October 2021.