GORKI, Feb. 1 (TASS) - Russian officials realized back in early February 2020 that COVID-19 poses a serious threat, which helped Russia prepare for the pandemic better than many European states, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with Russian media.

When asked by TASS when the Russian government realized that the pandemic was here to stay and that is a threat of a historical level, he stated: "In order to realize the scale of the threat, it is necessary to get reliable data." "This was not easy, but I can say this directly: by early February, we all understood that this is a serious problem," he pointed out.

Medvedev points out that he wrote one of the first reports to the president on this issue two weeks after he was appointed deputy chairman of the Security Council, that is, at the beginning of February. "Understanding that this is a serious threat without a doubt helped us prepare much better than many European states, in my opinion," he stressed.

The deputy chairman noted that there are two factors that influenced the situation: firstly, the quick efforts of the government to fight the spread of infection, and secondly, the state of the healthcare system, which, "despite all issues," was better prepared for the pandemic than in other states.

The politician said that this was due to the features remaining since the Soviet times. "Namely, there is a rather large amount of hospital beds, and at first, it helped tackle the issue better than in other states," he explained. He added that this influenced the number of people receiving aid and recovering, as well as the death toll.

"Naturally, nothing is perfect, I suppose there were some mistakes. By the way, the president mentioned that, for example, there were issues with payments to medics. However, these are technological issues, and the realization that this is a serious threat appeared in our country at the highest level practically immediately, I think," Medvedev concluded. "I hope that everything involved in this is working along these lines now."