Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: on the Verge of Lockdown

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Marina DRAGALIN As the "British" of COVID-19 strain spreads, the third wave of the pandemic struck Moldova: the graph of new cases increase shows peak values and there are anti-records registered within mortality and the number of patients in serious condition almost every day World statistics on coronavirus show some situation stabilization after the February deterioration. Over the past week, the increase in new cases averaged about 400 thousand per day. In total, 118.7 million people have tested COVID-19 positive. At the same time, 94 million of them recovered and 2.6 died. However, the regional situation is very different. For example, experts talk about the third wave approaching Europe, which could provoke a return to tough restrictions. “In Europe, we must be wary of the COVID-19 third wave start. I do not want commenting on other countries, we can all see the numbers ... So, we must vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest possible time, otherwise we will get more serious cases than we can cope with, " the president of Robert Koch Institute, Professor Lothar Wheeler said. Meanwhile, the vaccination rate in Europe continues remaining low. Just to compare, according to the Bloomberg tracker, 9.35 vaccinations per 100 people were made in Europe, while in the USA this figure reached almost 28, and even exceeded 35 in the UK. Against this background, it is understandable hearing the European Commission criticizing companies that produce the vaccine and in particular AstraZeneca. Recall, interruptions within vaccines supply for the EU began in January. European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides then said that AstraZeneca could not provide the agreed batch of vaccine in the first quarter of 2021 and was forced to half cut it. However, the end of February showed supplies in the second quarter would be cut by more than half. Commenting on the situation, the Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen stressed that until the company explains why is the vaccine not supplied to Europe, the European Commission will see a problem in the supply of the drug outside the EU. And this, as we have already seen, is fraught with goods detention for other countries and their redistribution within the union. In connection with population immunization, the issue of coronavirus vaccines certification has also intensified. The first project to create the so-called vaccination passports will be presented by the European Commission next week. “On March 17, the European Commission will approve its proposals on this document, which will not be called a passport but a “green electronic pass”. The question of its practical application will be decided later on,” the official representative of the European Commission, Eric Mamer said. According to preliminary data, the document will not only display the fact of vaccination but other medical information about immunity to COVID-19 as well. It is worth noting that the World Health Organization fully supports the electronic coronavirus vaccination certification. “We support electronic certification for a number of reasons, it does have many benefits,” Keith O'Brien, head of the WHO immunization department said. According to the expert, such certificates can contain information on the drug injected and that will help programs evaluating vaccines’ safety and effectiveness. However, WHO draws also attention to the need for these certificates’ use being clearly regulated. In particular, it is important to preserve personal information and not allow it to be used to restrict people's ability (for example, to travel). “At the moment, vaccination certification for travelers is not recommended because vaccines are not sufficient to vaccinate the entire population. If we say that vaccinated people can do something, but unvaccinated people cannot, then the injustice in the world will only worsen,” Michael Ryan, director of the WHO emergency program emphasizes. The issue of "green passes" and their use will obviously, only increase its relevance in the near future, especially given the extremely limited access to COVID-19 immunization for the general population. You don't have to go far looking for examples. By March 10, only about 0.2% of the population was vaccinated in Moldova - less than 7.4 thousand health workers. At the same time, about 18,000 doses were transferred to medical institutions (consignments from Romania and the COVAX platform). Speaking about vaccination in Moldova, experts also note that so far, the process cannot be accelerated due to the lack of vaccine doses. However, by the end of March, 21 thousand doses of AstraZeneca and several thousand doses from Pfizer are expected to be delivered. In April, Moldova is waiting for another 70,000 doses of the vaccine to move on to the second immunization stage. At the same time, the process itself gets complicated by an obvious distrust in the republic both for vaccination in general and for the British-Swedish drug in particular. It is only exacerbated by reports as to this vaccine’s use suspension due to side effects in a number of countries, including European ones: Austria, Denmark, Estonia, etc. In Moldova itself, about 300 cases of side effects have been registered so far. Most often, this is a mild reaction: fever, chills, weakness, and pain at the injection site. The general epidemiological situation in the country remains extremely difficult. Almost 200 thousand people have tested COVID-19 positive. The new British strain did as well show itself: the number of patients’ increase is accompanied with a more severe disease run and massive infection within children. New anti-records have been registered: the number of deaths from coronavirus per day (more than 30 people) and the number of patients connected to mechanical ventilation (more than 70 people). In total, 4183 people have already died from the coronavirus and its consequences. Experts state that medical institutions are overloaded, family doctors have too many patients under their supervision and cannot control them - the health care system is exhausted and can no longer cope with. The population immunization process is proceeding slowly and it is a too long way for it to reach a national scale effect, besides, supplies via the COVAX mechanism are experiencing delays and cut in batches. In the current situation, we should probably expect for the next lockdown being introduced, at least partially. The country's leadership is already conducting cautious talks about. However, it is difficult to predict whether will the population health outweigh the potential economic damage due to the new restrictions.