Moldovan doctors are sounding the alarm. The rate of cases increase reached the December peaks; the number of severe cases increased sharply. Experts give gloomy forecasts: if nothing changes, then Moldova will face a record surge in the incidence within 3 weeks
Recently, the World Health Organization has outlined the approximate date for coronavirus pandemiccompletion. In particular, the head of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, Hans Kluge said that the pandemic will end in early 2022. “The worst scenario is over. We know more about the virus compared to 2020, when it just began spreading,”he said. The expert also drew attention to the fact that the virus will not leave forever the human population but there will be no need for restrictionsby the beginning of next year. However, as Kluge himself emphasizes, this is only a forecast and no one can accurately predict the way situation will develop.
Currently, 113.4 million people have been COVID-19 positively tested and 2.5 million out of them have died. According to statistics, the global rate of cases increase and mortality continue declining. However, positive dynamics are not observed everywhere. So, the pandemic is not losing ground on the European continent. Due to the alarming situationdevelopment, a number of the EU countries’authorities are extending and introducing new quarantine measures.
Italy has extended the ban on movement between regions until the end of March while on the German border,restrictionswill remain in effect until March 3. The government of Finland also introduces severe restrictionsfrom March 8 to March 28 in connection with situation aggravation. Additional restrictions are also introduced in Poland and Sweden. The situation is developing especially alarmingly in France and in the Czech Republic.
Experts associate the incidenceincrease with the spread of coronavirus’more infectious mutations, in particular, the so-called British strain. As researches show, it accounts for 30% of new cases todayand by the end of March it will already dominate. In addition to the fact that when mutated, the virus becomes more infectious, the presence of a large number of strains will lead to a lengthy vaccination process. The new variant of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, B.1.526, is already spreading in New York; its mutations could reduce vaccines’effectiveness.
According to experts, due to changes in the coronavirusproperties, the vaccination process can last for years. Against this background, the EU has decided to create a working group to research mutations and explore the possibilities of creating new sites for vaccinesmanufacturing. The importance of drug manufacturing in the EU is particularly emphasized in order to shorten supply chains and to quickly distribute vaccines across the Community.
In light of the above trends, the tough epidemiological situation in Moldova looks even more alarming. Our country is the only country in Europe that has not started the vaccination process, despite the promises of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection to launch it in mid-February. The vaccine was not received either under COVAX or from Romania, Lithuania and Turkey who had promised support. True, Bucharest’s intention to deliver the first batch of 20 thousand vaccines (out of the promised 200 thousand) to our country was announced yesterday but, as it is easy to guess, this is just a drop in the ocean in terms of Moldova’s overall population. President Maia Sandu, speaking about the vaccine supply problems, complains that negotiations with manufacturing companies are complicated by their doubts about the readiness of the Moldovan healthcare system and transparency of justice (in case of possible litigation).
Meanwhile, the situation is escalating. The number of new cases has been on the rise for the third week. Experts from the National Agency of Public Health provide gloomy forecasts: without complying with the quarantine measures, Moldova will face a record surge in the incidence in three weeks. The head of the Epidemiological Surveillance Department Stefan Gheorghita emphasizes that only the last week alone registered a16% increase in the incidence and the number of deaths increased by almost 20%, “Everything indicates an increase in the epidemic, and it will be significant in the coming weeks. We are back to the November level when we used to register a record number of cases. The population and business do not comply with the introduced restrictions”.
Doctors are sounding the alarm: the rate of increase in cases has reached the December peak values, being compounded by a sharp increase in severe cases. “The hospital capacity to receive and treat patients is at the limit. The medical staff is working on the verge of exhaustion, rooms for patients are not enough, there is a shortage of medical devices, oxygen, electricity, logistics,” Adrian Belii, head of the Anesthesia and Resuscitation Department at the Emergency Medicine Institute, says.
One patient coronavirus treatment involving intensive care costs the country 20-60 thousand lei. On top of that, the double increase in new cases and severe infections are indicators of the British strain. Moldovan laboratories cannot recognize it, but samples have already been sent abroad for analysis.
According to doctors, the only solution that would make it possible to really control the pandemic is immunizing 70% of the country’s population. Therefore, prompt receipt of vaccines should be a priority for the authorities. However, the health care system may face serious resistance at the program implementation stage: the majority of the population (over 56%) is strongly opposed to vaccination, and only one third agrees to get vaccinated.
For reference: to date, 182,000 people in Moldova have been diagnosed with COVID-19, 3871 of whom died.
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