Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: Alarming Anti-Records Omnidirectionally

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Marina DRAGALIN Last week, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 10 thousand cases of COVID-19 infection were detected in our country, and this negative trend only strengthened: yesterday, Moldova set a new anti-record for the number of new cases Despite the ongoing quarantine measures and the vaccination process, the global situation with the novel coronavirus continues worsening. The January and early February decline in incidence has ended, and for a month and a half, new cases and mortality keep steadily increasing. To date, 125.5 million people have tested COVID-19 positive; out of them 2.75 million have died. The situation in Europe remains difficult. Many countries extend restrictive measures. The new quarantine aimed at containing coronavirus has a detrimental effect on business and the economy. Experts expect a slowdown in business activity, growth in inflation and consumer prices. Constant quarantine extension causes discontent among population. European countries face massive resistance to the imposed restrictions. Marseille inhabitants staged a whole covid carnival, which the police had to disperse with tear gas. In Berlin, workers in the tourism and hospitality industry staged a demonstration demanding more flexibility in their approach. The situation with vaccination keeps being ambiguous in the EU as well. European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton expressed the opinion that it will be possible to achieve collective immunity in Europe by July 14. However, emerging difficulties in the supply and use of immunization drugs may impede these plans. To be on the safe side, the EU is tightening coronavirus vaccines export controls. The new rules will make it easier for the EU to freeze exports to countries that have not met their own vaccine supply obligations. The European Commission will rely on data on the rates of vaccination in countries that request drugs from the EU. The EC deputy head, Maros Sefcovic said that the EU is forced to resort to legal action against the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca for vaccine shortage. At the same time, he noted that the European Union does not intend introducing a complete ban on vaccines export, in particular, the changes will not affect supplies under the COVAX mechanism. Discord vaccine Another stumbling block for the EU was the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. According to the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, the EU does not need Sputnik V: “From March to June, we will supply 300 to 350 million doses of vaccines to Europe. Since Europe is the continent with the most approved vaccines by medical regulators, we are the first continent to manufacture them. We absolutely don't need Sputnik V. According to him, it is necessary to massively produce and distribute the already approved vaccines. At the same time, Germany calls on the European Commission to start negotiations with Moscow on Sputnik V purchase. According to one of the German officials, the issue could be discussed during the European Council summit this week. Last week, after talks with the European Commission, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Seder announced it is necessary to speed up drugs’ approval procedure, "especially Sputnik." He also noted that European studies have already shown that the Russian drug is safe and "in some cases better than the already approved vaccines" by the European regulator. Some EU countries, for example, Hungary and Slovakia do already use the Russian vaccine, actually, bypassing the EMA supervision. Against this background, it is interesting to see the way the Moldovan Sputnik V story will unfold. This vaccine was officially registered in Moldova but, according to the chairman of the Socialist Party Igor Dodon, the administration of President Maia Sandu tried to prevent it in every possible way. To date, there is information that the Russian Federation is ready to provide our country with the Sputnik V vaccine, including as humanitarian aid. However, as the Moldovan Ambassador to Russia Vladimir Golovatiuc reported, the contradictory statements made by high politicians of Moldova regarding the Russian vaccine are perceived in Moscow with bewilderment. “We need to understand the Russian authorities: when we were on all fronts ready to launch an “offensive” and receive the vaccine, there were statements in the media that no state medical institution in Moldova would have the right to use it ... Whilst many states keep on constantly asking Russia to provide the vaccine, Moldovan representatives say that “we will not use it in state medical institutions,” Golovatiuc complained. Moldovan COVID disaster At the same time, the epidemiological situation in the country irrevocably "spiraled downward". Last week, the total number of cases exceeded 10 thousand people for the first time since the pandemic beginning. Considering the continuing negative trends, the current week will be even more impressive. It only suffices mentioning yesterday's anti-record that reached 2273 infected. At present, 220 thousand cases of coronavirus infection have already been confirmed in Moldova. Almost 22 thousand citizens are being treated; out of them 4448 are hospitalized. 350 people are in extremely serious condition, more than 60 of them are connected to artificial lung ventilation devices. 4,661 people have already died from the coronavirus and its consequences. At the same time, the mortality rate has significantly accelerated. For comparison: the number of deaths did not usually exceed 150 people per week, while the last two weeks reached 219 and 229 people. Terrible, but true: only in less than 3 months of the current year, Moldova “accumulated” more than a third of all deaths. The Moldovan healthcare system is still holding up, but the situation within is alarming. There are not enough places for hospitalization, and it is not possible to open additional ones in regional hospitals, since their buildings simply do not often meet even basic requirements. It is especially difficult to talk about the daily decreasing number of medical personnel. And, if the capital's COVID centers are more or less staffed, then it is difficult to say the same about the regional ones. The vaccination process is slow. According to the American agency Bloomberg study, if keeping current rate of immunization, Moldova will need about 6 more years to vaccinate 75% of the population. By comparison, Romania could achieve the same herd immunity in 17 months. It is not yet clear the way epidemiological situation will develop. Experts are prudently silent and the gloomy WHO predictions, which were presented to President Maia Sandu and mentioned in the media a few weeks ago, have not been publicized. Thus, traditionally one should hope for the best but prepare for the worst.