Working on Coronavirus Mistakes?

April 06, 2022

The coronavirus, which Ukraine has been opposed to for the past two years, has begun to seem like an echo of the distant past with the onset of russian aggression. Meanwhile, the coronavirus crisis reflected a number of contradictions and shortcomings, the neglect of which nullified attempts to quickly overcome it. Although some anti-coronavirus policy measures "warned" of long-term risks, such warnings were often not heard in time. However, russian aggression has forced a new decision on the right and timely actions.

(1). The losses suffered by the world economy were significant in the first months (2020) of the pandemic. However, it was just as quick to make up for the economic losses. Even if at the end of 2021 production did not reach pre-crisis levels in all countries, overall losses were however much lower than initially estimated. Moreover, according to the results of (pandemic years) 2020–2021 the world economy grew by 2.7%. The experience regarding the development of pandemic processes and counteraction to them shows that the decisive role in maintaining economic dynamics and maintaining health and lives of the population was played by rapid and targeted solutions (and then their further implementation) aimed at financial support of households and businesses.

In Ukraine, anti-coronavirus "support" of the population and businesses has been devastatingly criticised. In contrast to it, in order to counter aggression and save lives of people, the Ukrainian government organised both financial assistance and assistance in evacuating the population from the most affected areas, as well as assistance in relocating businesses. This gives some hope that the process of rebuilding the country will be faster, given the already announced and expected broad assistance of the world community.

(2). Coronavirus processes, for which humanity was not ready, demonstrated the weakness of value declarations. At the same time, there has been a clear and marked deterioration in the observance of democratic principles. The Global Democracy Index (as well as the value of the Index for the vast majority of countries) fell to its lowest level (since its inception in 2006), largely due to country closures, strict restrictions (including restrictions regarding human rights), and discriminatory measures related to vaccination, etc. Moreover, in a number of countries, humanitarian restrictions were introduced under the pretext of a pandemic, although in fact they were intended to increase autocracy or control over citizens.

The excessive coronavirus restrictions imposed in Ukraine have been severely criticised. Yet, to counter the aggressor there was (natural for Ukrainians) conscious and voluntary unity of citizens, balanced centralisation of government, subordination of all political and economic interests to a single goal — the most effective fight against the aggressor, which eased the pressure of many accumulated mistakes.

(3). Only in the coming years will it be possible to really assess the rationality and adequacy of crisis impact assessments. Meanwhile, the coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the unpreparedness of humanity for joint and coordinated response to threats. One of the significant consequences of the revealed anti-coronavirus weakness of the interaction between governments and institutions was the psychological "anxiety" behind which inaction was hidden.

The unexpectedness and comprehensiveness of the pandemic, the complexity of the course and initial recovery should mean that business and households in the coming (post-coronavirus) years will make questionable decisions (on household spending, business investment), putting in them possible new pandemic (military, environmental) world catastrophes. Moreover, such behavior of all economic agents (who are not ready to give up their own peace and prosperity), would mean a general increase in the level of risk, which would be a deterrent to global development. It seems that Ukraine has managed to break such an unscrupulous "closure" as soon as the Ukrainians rose to defend the Motherland.

(4). During the pandemic, along with the intensification of authoritarian tendencies, which allegedly managed to solve anti-coronavirus problems more effectively, populist slogans and demands were no less clearly promoted and spread, on one hand, and, on the other hand, restrictive measures, including the ones using technological advances aimed ostensibly at protecting the national economy from possible abuses and external shocks.

In particular, populist demands for control to prevent abuse were based on the generous ground of "humanitarian" digitalisation, which in fact was mainly aimed at expanding and strengthening authoritarian control over individual citizens and civil society. Here we are talking about both the physical location of people, and tracking human contacts using mobile applications in modern phones, bank cards, home video surveillance systems, etc.

In Ukraine, almost for the first time in modern history, populism has been replaced by rationality, trust, above all, in the armed forces, and their ability to defend the country. Moreover, broad international solidarity (including the direct participation of foreign nationals in countering the aggressor) can testify to the renewal of the values of freedom and independence in the country.

(5). The risks of coronavirus were initially underestimated, when countries refused to recognise the global nature of the disease. Even as the incidence became global, the research and production of drugs did not become truly international.

Russia's aggression (although the world's leading intelligence agencies have long warned of a growing likelihood) was perceived by Europe as a "conflict" of limited influence. And instead of quick action in support of Ukraine and condemnation of the aggressor, only further deep concerns were expressed. At the same time, the weak coherence of the positions of NATO member states (when one country is able to block a much-needed decision without worrying much about the consequences and risks to world development) has had a general destructive effect. Obviously, the sluggishness of Europe was influenced by outright underestimation (or even disregard) of the risks of invading and waging a full-scale war by Ukraine itself.

However, russian aggression, albeit with a certain delay, was recognised by the vast majority of countries as the one threatening nuclear war to all mankind and which has critically affected the global socio-economic and socio-political environment. Now Ukraine is becoming the epicenter of opposition to the latest neoteric fascist manifestations.

Vasyl Yurchyshyn

Director, Economic Programmes

Born in 1955 in Kamyanets-Podilskyi.


T. Shevchenko Kyiv State University, Department of Cybernetics (1977).

Institute of Public Administration and Local Government at the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (1994).

Professor in Public Administration. Author of nearly 100 scientific works.


In 1977–1993, worked at the Kyiv University as an engineer, research fellow and senior research fellow;

1994–1999 — head economic researcher at the International Centre for Policy Studies, Fund for Banking and Finance Development;

1999–2004 — Assistant Professor, Department of Economic Policy of the Ukrainian (currently, National) Academy of Public Administration, office of the President of Ukraine;

1999–2004 — Research Director at the Agency of Humanitarian Technologies, later — Agency for Social Analysis;

2002–2003 — advisor to the Minister of Economy of Ukraine;

since April, 2004 — Professor, Department of Economic Policy of the National Academy of Public Administration, office of the President of Ukraine;

since June, 2005 — Economic Programmes Director at Razumkov Centre.

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