Virology and High-Risk Infections
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- Ageless Mind
- Miscellaneous Items from 1994-2001
- Socialism or a Just Society
- Bibliography of M.I. Levi (continued)
- Pleasant Memories of a Wonderful Person and Patriot, Moisey Iosifovich Levi
Virology and High-Risk Infections
Nadezhda Nikolaevna Basova (pp. 4–64).
This chapter contains Basova’s reminiscences about her career as a virologist. She provides insights into the life and work
of her husband, M.I. Levi. Also included are Levi’s reminiscences of hosting Albert Sabin, who visited Kharkov,
Ukraine, in July 1956.
As a high school student, Basova dreamed of working at the I.I. Mechnikov Research Institute of
Microbiology and Immunology in her hometown of Kharkhov, Ukraine. Despite the disruptions
of war and evacuation to Central Asia, she completed her medical degree in 1947 and was hired by
the Institute as a laboratory technician, and then as a junior scientist. Once the Institute opened a
virology laboratory, she switched fields, from microbiology to virology. Basova spent the rest of her
career as a virologist working on viruses that cause hepatitis, influenza, lymphocytic choriomeningitis,
poliomyelitis, and other diseases. In 1956, she left Kharkov and established the virology department
at the Stavropol AP Institute.
Basova describes a wide range of research done by her and colleagues. She includes sketches about
many colleagues and about various aspects of her life and work.
Yury Grigorevich Suchkov (pp. 65-105).
This chapter describes M.I. Levi’s work on hospital infection control after leaving the AP system, as well as his
organization of collaborative research projects among AP institutions. It contains reproductions of several documents
and correspondences pertaining to this work.
Suchkov, a colleague of Levi at the Stavropol and Rostov-on-Don AP institutes, writes that from 1968
until his death in 2002, Levi’s theoretical and applied research included specializations in sterilization
technology and the prevention and treatment of nosocomial infections. He organized research
programs and worked vigorously to advocate and implement practical measures for improving public
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Miscellaneous Items from 1994-2001
Moisey Iosifovich Levi (posthumous) (pp. 106-15). One diagram.
This chapter consists of three sections. The first contains various scientific and theoretical notes that Levi had written
about the implications of canonical and contemporary research on dormant periods in epizootics. The next section
summarizes the key outcomes and points of discussion at the jubilee conference held on the hundredth anniversary of the
Russian AP system in Saratov in 1997. The final section reports 10 principles upon which participants in a symposium
on antibiotic therapy agreed through their discussions of the papers presented at the conference.
In the notes published here, Levi discusses various hypotheses related to the culturability of different
forms of sporulating and nonsporulating bacteria for the purpose of studying organisms’ reactions to
stress. He posits that if unculturable forms of sporulating bacteria exist, the documentation of these
forms is important.
Levi also discusses other considerations for the formation of unculturable forms
of chauvinism, the possible effect of phages on unculturable forms, and the role that unculturable forms
may play in explaining why periods occur between epizootic outbreaks. He presents a few hypotheses
about the evolution of sporulating bacteria and their ability to tolerate higher temperatures.
The second section is entitled “Historical Roots of the Anti-plague System: Theses from a Report
at the Anti-plague System Anniversary Conference, Saratov, 1997.” The summary of the report was
produced by the Experimental Laboratory Center of the Moscow Municipal Disinfection Center. It
highlights that there is a lack of literature on the historical successes of the AP system in lowering the
danger of high-risk infections to the population. Further, it reports that the conference considered the
publication of the Interesting Stories… as an important effort aimed at filling this gap.
The third section is entitled “Major Results of the Scientific Symposium on the Organization of
Bacteriological Research During Controlled Antibiotic Therapy for Pyogenic Infection Patients.” The
findings relate to best practices with respect to the timing of isolating cultures from open wounds, the
study of the efficiency of antibiotics to treat wounds, and the possible benefits of localized antibiotic
2. The risk of plague infection has decreased considerably, in no small part due to the efforts of
the AP system. It is worthwhile to analyze the results and successes of these efforts. Therefore
extra attention is being focused on the work from recent decades and the need to learn more.
Note from the editors: By far, most of bacteria that exist on Earth have yet to be studied and identified, largely
because bioscientists are unable to artificially culture them. Unculturable bacteria therefore are challenging to investigate,
but yet forever entice scientists to study them.
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Stories of the Soviet Anti-Plague System
3. As a result of recent economic problems, there have been practically no new publications
on historical topics. AP establishments and their employees have become impoverished, and
employees, particularly younger ones, have been laid off. During this period, we decided to
begin publishing Interesting Stories About the Activities and People of the AP System of Russia and the
Soviet Union. We have already been able to publish five volumes, an average of one every six months.
4. A distinguishing feature of the published volumes of Interesting Stories… is that they
are devoted to practical and scientific problems in the fight against plague. The articles in
Interesting Stories… are primarily of two types; in-depth reviews of vital topics and stories about
outstanding people of the AP system. The reviews are rather high-level scientific writing for
readers with a certain degree of professional training. The best of the non-scientific, anecdotal
stories go beyond mere praise and positive assessments of their subjects. […]
7. Given the demands of the times through which we are living, we decided to slightly alter
the profile of Interesting Stories… and devote more space to original articles on the fundamental
problems of science, as well as expand the subject range beyond plague to include other high-
risk infections, too.
Socialism or a Just Society
Moisey Iosifovich Levi (posthumous) (pp. 116-37). 15 photographs.
This chapter consists of a sociological essay that argues that societal development can and should be measured with
social indicators rather than defined within the constraints of a given ideology. Levi examines Soviet history and the
transition to Russian democracy, as well as draws comparisons with social development in the United States. He posits
that measuring social progress is an important work of science that must be undertaken if societies are to be conscious
of the reality of their state, rather than trust in the accuracy of ideology or faith.
Social scientists proceed from the entirely reasonable assumption that social structure is
affected not only by changes in natural forces (population changes, migration, natural disasters,
exhaustion of nonrenewable natural resources, etc.), but also by conscious activity (philosophy,
ideology, propaganda, politics, management of the economy, etc.). One would like to believe
that the determining factor is the conscious activity, and if it is so, then the task of outlining
and formulating the goals of social progress is one of the most important areas of political
philosophy. If these goals are acknowledged to be fundamentally unachievable, then they are
called utopia (perpetual motion, for example), but those other [achievable] goals become the
subjects of heated arguments. In exactly the same way that morality dates back to the time of
Moses’s tablets, the origin of the concept of social justice is lost in the depths of centuries
past. It is entirely understandable why new historians strive to differentiate the concepts
of social justice and social utopia. The present article is about defining the goals of social
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development as they are seen by the modern generation, and about the methods of assessing
society’s progress toward them.
The people who make up a society are initially heterogeneous. The task of a democratic
society is to provide them with approximately equal possibilities for development, though this
is not sufficient to prevent subsequent economic and spiritual stratification, which is probably
unavoidable in any society.
One task of society is to improve the spiritual nature of human beings. Religion, particularly
Christianity, has had particular success in this regard. However, the improvement of social
structure, which is the subject of this article, is a different task and cannot be reduced to the
improvement of individual people.
I was driven to write these notes out of the need to formulate for myself and others a concept
of the goal of social progress. […]
Without a clearly expressed goal, social development loses its direction, and even in those cases
where society achieves material well-being, its future is doubtful without a concept of social
development goals. Today, many people recognize that “there is no bread without freedom.”
However, some people define the concepts of bread and freedom too broadly.
If I may dare to do so, I would like to present my concepts of the social development goals
for our country as follows:
1. A high level of productive capacities comparable to the level of developed countries, but
without destructive effects on the environment. A sufficient standard of living and social
protection for the vast majority of the population.
2. A high level of culture for most members of society.
3. Equal rights for citizens of different ethnic groups and people professing different religions.
4. A high level of public consciousness, sufficient to establish a government by law and ensure
human rights (according to internationally recognized concepts). Respect for personal rights.
5. Democratic forms for managing the central government and local governments.
Representative governing bodies and various political parties based on freedom of information.
These goals could be derided as socialism, but it is better not to use that term, because these
goals do not mention forms of ownership, public structure, ideology, or religion. The concept
of the goals of social development should not be dependent on any kind of ideological “ism” or any social
formation. If there is a desire to make it so, then the content of the “ism” must be precisely defined. […]
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Stories of the Soviet Anti-Plague System
For the last two centuries of human history, people in power have been vowing that their only
motivation is to achieve social progress as they understand it. Such was the case in our country,
especially after the October Revolution, when our leaders daily or even hourly reassured us that
they were building and strengthening a socialist structure. There is no need to discuss this in
detail, but it is vitally necessary that we tirelessly repeat that nothing is further from the truth
than to say that socialism was being constructed in our country.
In this article, we will not discuss the methods for achieving the social development goals
formulated above. Nevertheless, it does make sense to recognize all the drama and tension of
our post-revolutionary life and thereby highlight the need for a sober and objective evaluation
of the course of social development.
After the New Economic Policy was strangled, Stalinist totalitarianism completely broke with
reason, and the development of society was characterized by an imperialistic mentality and
Millions of people were sacrificed at the altar of misrepresented goals of social
development. The absence of even nascent democracy allowed the authorities to be not only
cruel, but even criminal. By now, so much has been written about this that there is hardly any
sense in repeating it.
During the Khrushchev era, the Eastern despotism was partially destroyed. The slavish
dependence of workers on management disappeared; before that, a worker could not leave a
job without the permission of the management. Collective farm workers received passports and
thereby obtained freedom of movement. A large portion of the convicted political criminals, be
they still alive or already dead, were rehabilitated. The pace of housing construction quickened.
Some of the most odious figures of the KGB and party leadership were forced into oblivion.
Culture was stimulated to some degree. Looking back, there is clearly a yawning gap between
the accomplishments of the Khrushchev thaw period and the characteristics of a just society
as mentioned at the beginning of this article, but nevertheless, the influence of the thaw on
subsequent social development was enormous, if not crucial.
The seeds of the thaw fell on
poorly prepared soil, but nevertheless the sprouts were very important.
During the twilight of the zastoy, social development appeared to slow down, but economic
stagnation and the dissident movement delivered their sentence.
The New Economic Policy (NEP) was instituted by Lenin in 1921, but was terminated when Stalin ordered the
adoption of the first Five-Year Plan in 1928. NEP allowed some aspects of capitalism, such as private ownership
of property and small businesses. In fact, it gave a substantial boost to the Soviet economy that, at the time, was in
The Khrushchev thaw (the Russian “ottepel” is commonly used) refers to the era of Soviet history defined by the
reversal of many of Stalin’s repressions. Many political prisoners were rehabilitated, and censorship was lifted somewhat.
“Zastoy,” or “stagnation,” refers to the era of Soviet history defined by slowed economic, social, and political
development under Brezhnev, which preceded the perestroika (reform) period of the 1980s.
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In this sense, society is progressing especially slowly in the area of culture and therefore great
efforts are required. For example, I think that the bleeding wounds of the United States—
drug addiction, crime, AIDS—are largely due to shortcomings in the area of culture. In fact,
the hordes of rock musicians, the avalanche of third-rate movies, and the constellation of
semi-amateur theaters can’t be seen as cultural progress. There is no doubt that there are at
least as many art museums in New York as in Paris, but the overall level of culture in France
is immeasurably higher than in the United States. This foretells serious social cataclysms in
the world’s richest country, even though that country has been able to construct a workable
For many years, it was thought that public opinion could not be measured, although it was
quite possible to perceive qualitative shifts, and this was the job of politicians. However, for 20-
30 years now, many countries have had institutes that study public opinion, and in most cases
they present an entirely objective picture. With rare exceptions, public opinion surveys give an
adequate quantitative assessment and predict the results of various elections and referendums.
It seems to me that it is now time that sociologists have the opportunity to quantitatively assess
the progress of society toward a more just structure of life in those five directions that were
listed at the beginning of this article. It is not a simple task, but it is doable. If society were
to have such a tool for the objective assessment of the rate of progress toward a more just
structure of life, the waves of expert assessments, tainted with emotional outbreaks, would
be replaced by more studied judgments about the activities of our government leaders. At the
same time, people in power would have a social mirror that they could look at once in a while.
Various countries now have research establishments that assess the quality of life, but these
assessments cover mainly the economic aspect of life. For example, countries can be ranked in
a series based on an indicator such as the amount of time it takes the average worker to earn
1 kilogram of meat. But this is only one indicator, and far from the most important. I think
there should be a large, but finite, number of indicators, and they should have an absolute and
relative “value” for obtaining a comprehensive assessment of society.
It is obvious that the goals of social progress can be formulated, and that the social progress
toward these goals can be determined. Therefore, the time has come to transfer the assessment
of the direction and rate of social progress from the political sphere into the hands of
representatives of the natural science disciplines, because progress is a subject for science, not
Thus, social progress must have clearly comprehensible goals. The movement toward a more
just society can be assessed quantitatively and must not be obscured by ideology and faith,
which in their own way can serve as a means, provided they do not contradict the moral and
ethical norms of humanity.
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Stories of the Soviet Anti-Plague System
Bibliography of M.I. Levi (continued)
Editor (pp. 138-40). 25 references.
This chapter contains a bibliography of M.I. Levi, continued from volume 10, pages 355-91, that features a listing
of 25 works published in Selected Results in Bacteriological Diagnostics for the Program on Controlled
Antibiotic Therapy of Pyogenic Patients: Sixth Russian-Italian Scientific Conference, edited by M.I. Levi
and Yu.G. Suchkov (St. Petersburg: VMA, 1999) and in Theses Addressed in the Anniversary Collection
of the Stavropol Anti-Plague Research Institute (Oct. 2002).
Pleasant Memories of a Wonderful Person and Patriot, Moisey
Ivan Semyonovich Khudyakov (pp. 141-49).
This chapter explains the author’s relationship with M.I. Levi, describing how the author became acquainted with Levi
and his work. It also describes Levi’s organization of international conferences and his attempts to find an artist to
adapt the Interesting Stories… series as a literary or cinematographic work.
Moisey attended national forums in St. Petersburg organized by the departments of general
and military epidemiology, microbiology, infectious diseases, and general and military hygiene
of the Military Medical Academy and the Main Military-Medical Administration of the Russian
Federation Ministry of Defense. He presented papers at these forums. He traveled to the
All-Russian Conference of Surgeons organized by the academy’s department of inpatient
surgery, where he met surgeons from the Commonwealth of Independent States and beyond.
This international conference was dedicated to the urgent problem of pyogenic infections in
surgical practice. Moisey presented important and interesting information on selecting the
optimum antibiotic for patients with pyogenic infection. The surgeons at this session listened
In addition, immediately after the conference, Major General of the Medical Service, Professor
Yevgeny Konstantinovich Gumanenko, chairman of the Department of Inpatient Surgery at
the Military Medical Academy, postponed all planned activities in the department and gave
Moisey the opportunity to share his experience and his laboratory’s findings with the entire
department, with no time limit. The information that Moisey presented at the plenary session
of the conference was of great interest to the surgeons. There was an interesting conversation
on the topic of “Science as Practice.” I heard comments from prominent surgeons at the
academy who had high praise for Moisey’s paper and asked for the chance to have more in-
depth discussions with this scientist from Moscow who, although not a surgeon, knew the
needs of surgical practice very well.
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Several members of Gumanenko’s department expressed the desire to develop a plan and do
work in this area, and Moisey heartily agreed.
I had a memorable time with Moisey and Nadezhda Basova at the Isaak I. Rogozin Memorial
Conference on May 13, 2000, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Rogozin’s birth. The
conference was organized by the Main Military-Medical Administration, the Military Medical
Academy, and the Military-Medical Museum, along with the Rogozin’s own Department of
General and Military Epidemiology at the academy, now headed by Professor Pavel Ivanovich
Ogarkov. For the opening of the conference, the museum prepared an exhibition of Rogozin’s
scientific works and personal effects. A book was published about this outstanding scientist
and practitioner in the fields of military and civilian health. The conference was interesting and
insightful. Moisey’s participation was very touching. He really wanted to publish some of the
information in Interesting Stories… because it was directly related to the former director of his
beloved AP system.
Moisey and Nadezhda met Rogozin’s daughters Maya, who followed her father’s footsteps and
spent her entire career in the AP system, and Galina, a teacher, as well as Rogozin’s close friends
and colleagues from the Department of General and Military Epidemiology, which Rogozin
headed. The Rogozin family was very glad to meet Moisey and Nadezhda after hearing stories
about them from friends and colleagues.
Always wanting to preserve the memory of the AP system and its heroic figures, Moisey
looked for other forms and possibilities… Moisey said to me: “Give all 10 volumes of our
stories to Daniil A. Granin and ask him to look at them.
As a patriotic writer, he should
be interested in it.” I met with Daniil and, putting my entire heart into it and trying to be as
convincing as possible, asked him to read Interesting Stories. He told me: “Tell Moisey that I’m
truly impressed by his heroic and saintly activity and I approve his intentions in every way, but
unfortunately I have to decline his request. I’m over 80 and God help me complete the works
that I’ve already started and really have to finish.” Granin’s answer was a severe disappointment
for Levi, but did not discourage him. He asked me to continue looking for a good writer in the
Leningrad Writers’ Organization.
On the advice of the well-known Leningrad poet Semyon Vladimirovich Botvinnik, I contacted
the very popular writer Ilya Petrovich Shtemler and repeated Levi’s request. He listened to me
very attentively and sympathetically, but also rejected the proposal, saying that he could not
switch to writing about medicine and biology, topics far from his life experience, about which
he still had plenty to write. He suggested I talk with three other writers who are younger than
him and who work in different genres. He gave me their addresses and told me about each one.
Daniil A. Granin is a St. Petersburg author of a book on N.V. Timofeev-Resovsky, biologist and geneticist who was
politically repressed during Soviet times.
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Stories of the Soviet Anti-Plague System
I talked with each one in order. Two of them really grilled me about it, and then turned down
the idea. The third was interested, and then started listing a slew of conditions that had to be
fulfilled in order for him to write a literary work. Some of the conditions seemed unjustified,
excessive, and not entirely ethical. Nevertheless, I relayed the results of my conversations to
Moisey. I found out later than nothing constructive came of it all.
Moisey had ideas about getting filmmakers interested in this material. It seemed like something
positive was taking shape. One successful documentary film director from Moscow was very
interested. It turns out that his parents had spent their entire careers in the AP system and
owned a set of Levi’s Interesting Stories…But later, for some reason, he cooled on the idea and
lost interest, declining any further contacts. This was another severe blow for Moisey, but he
never gave up. He felt that our country must have thousands of sincere and truly creative
writers, poets, filmmakers, and other professionals outside of the creative arts unions, which
have so much dead wood. It just could not be that not one of them would be interested in our
subject. We simply were not doing a good enough job of showing the significance and urgent
dynamism of this exciting subject, showing them our lode of dramatic material, “opening up”
their souls, giving them a guilty conscience, or striking a patriotic chord that would inspire
them to a burst of creativity and spiritual awakening.
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