Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: Vaccination for the Chosen Ones?

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Marina DRAGALIN Recently, the World Health Organization published data on the planned coronavirus vaccine supply according to the COVAX mechanism. Due to limited production capacity and excessive demand, developing countries, including Moldova will receive far fewer doses than planned. Notwithstanding continued disease growth in some countries, globally, the number of new coronavirus cases has been declining for the third week. To date, 105.5 million people have been COVID-19 positive tested. In fact, almost 2 times fewer new cases per day were recorded, if compared to last month. “This demonstrates that the virus can be controlled even if new variants proliferate within. This shows that we can prevent infection and save lives if we continue adhering to already proven public health measures,” WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesuscomments. At the same time, the Organization’sHead warns that earlier on, the world has already faced an incidence of diseasedecrease, but the countries abandoned restrictions too early. “As vaccines spread, it is vital that we all continue taking precautions to keep ourselves and each other safe,” Ghebreyesus emphasized. Overall, the focus has shifted mainly towards vaccinations in the past few weeks. Last year, The New York Times compared to the Cold Warthe competition between the United States, Russia and China to develop coronavirusdrugs;a competition that allowed everything within: starting with cyber-attacks and ending with industrial espionage. Several months have passed and asthe UN Secretary Generalsuggested, the world started talking about "vaccine nationalism", because of which poor countries will not receive sufficient vaccine. Experts are actively talking about countries using vaccines to spread their influence. The limited production capacitygreatly affects thesituation. Thus, supply disruptions led to a loud scandal between the European Union, the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and the UK. Brussels found out that AstraZeneca, who announced a 60% cut in vaccine supplies to the EU in early 2021, is supplying the UK with 3 times more doses than the EU countries. The European Commission accused the company of violating the contract and transferring goods intended for the European Union to third countries. As a result, the EU banned coronavirus vaccines’export from its territory until March 31, 2021, unless special permission. Against this background, Moldova was waiting for the EU decision to provide a batch of vaccines with great attention. Earlier this week, the head of the European Union Delegation, Ambassador Peter Michalko, stated support for Moldova in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the COVAX/GAVI decision to allocate 24,570 doses of BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine and up to 264,000 indicative doses of AstraZeneca/SKBio vaccine to our country. However, according to official data published by WHO on February 4, Moldova will receive less: instead of 264,000 of AstraZeneca doses only 156,000. Moreover, even this number is not finalized. The delivery volumes will vary depending on the production capacities of the three manufacturing companies and their partners. In this context, Romania's confirmation to provide 200 thousand doses of vaccine to Moldova sounds somewhat encouraging. Concurrently, developments around the Russian Sputnik V vaccine delivery to Moldova are running its course. According to Tatiana Zatic, a State Secretary of Moldova's Health Ministry, all the information needed to register the vaccine in our country had been submitted to the Russian side. The government officials earlier stated that only WHO-accredited vaccines would be accepted in Moldova. Sputnik V hasn't obtained such certification yet, although a gradually changing attitude of the world community to the Russian vaccine, given the problems with the Western counterparts, is obvious. On Tuesday, The Lancet scientific journal published the results of the phase 3 trial of the Sputnik V vaccine, confirming its high efficiency and safety. According to official data, Russia will be able to provide the vaccine for 700 million people this year. The drug will cost about $ 10 for all importing countries. The possibility of purchase benefits for Moldova is still in question. The vaccination campaign in Moldova is expected to begin in the near future. Experts predict that starting the vaccination will help reduce mortality from COVID-19 infection and emerge from the sanitary and economic crisis. "The number of serious complications and death cases will decrease. Treating patients with coronavirus infection entails huge costs for the country, the cost of treating a patient in intensive care amounts to 300 thousand lei. Public vaccination will lead to a lower incapacitation degree for patients who have suffered serious forms, and will help return to normal life," medical professor Victor Cojocaru says. However, to achieve a sustainable result, it is necessary to immunize 70% of the population, and Moldova cannot count on such a number of drugs, like any developing country in the world. For reference: To date, more than 163 thousand coronavirus cases have been reported in Moldova, 3497 of them are deaths.