Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: Emergency Situation Got Back

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Marina DRAGALIN The state of emergency was reintroduced in Moldova from April 1 to May 30. There is no talk of a complete lockdown yet, however, the population and business will have to face some restrictions This week, the World Health Organization released a highly anticipated report on COVID-19origins. An international group of WHO experts stayed in China for almost a month. Among other things,they visitedthe Huanan seafood market and the very BSL-4 laboratory of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.Rumors associatethe leak of virus and its artificial originwith this laboratory. At the same time, experts could not make an unambiguous conclusion about infection’s origin. The most likely scenario, in their opinion, is coronavirus transmission from an animal to another animal and then to a person. The WHOcalledlaboratoryleak to be "extremely unlikely”. Nevertheless, the unclear origin story creates no obstacles for the new type of coronavirus to continue its victorious march around the world. There is a negative trend both in the number of new cases and in mortality rates. To date, more than 130 million people have already been infected, out of them almost 2.85 million have died. Last year, experts unanimously linked the victory over coronavirus with populationvaccination. Today, experts warn that to curb the pandemic by means of vaccinations, humanity disposes of less than a year. First-generation vaccines quickly lose their effectiveness, whilst long and low vaccination rates is leading to new strains emergingwhich are resistant to the existing drugs. 88% of scientists from institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Yale University, Imperial College, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicinewarned aboutthat when interviewed in an international study by the People's Vaccine Alliance, which includes Amnesty International, Oxfam and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV AIDS. “If we do not vaccinate the whole world, we will leave the playing field open for an increasing number of mutations, out of which strains able to block modern vaccines can emerge,” Gregg Gonzalez, professor of epidemiology at Yale Universityunderlined. That’s why, quick and even vaccinesdistribution is of a peculiar importance. The WHO even associates the world’s economy recovery with it. For example, the head of the organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, recently said that "the unfair vaccines distribution is not just a moral shame, it is suicidal from the economic and epidemiological point of view." Differenceswithinvaccination numbers in wealthy countries and those given by COVAX is growing every day. To date, more than 510 million doses of vaccines have been produced. At the same time, within the framework of the WHO humanitarian platform, only about 32 million doses have been distributed then delivered, while 36 countries have not yet received the vaccine at all. Against this background, the vaccination situation in Moldova looks less critical. The campaign to immunize the population has been going on for a month now and according to the Acting Minister of Health Tatiana Zatac, it has already entered the second phase - people over 65 years old, chronic patients and key areas employees are being vaccinated. According to the Ministry of Health, almost 1% of the population has already been immunized, that is, about 38 thousand people. 52% of healthcare workers received the COVID-19 vaccine. To date, more than 80% of received and purchased vaccine doses have been used. By the end of June, Moldova will receive another 100,620 Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine dosesthrough the COVAX platform and 120 thousand Sputnik V doses from Russia. Certainly, Moldova is tackling usual problems, too. Based on the media scandals as to the "out of turn" immunization of local government leaders, advisers and their relatives, the Ministry of Health launched an investigation into violations of the National Vaccination Plan. As was stated by Ninel Revenco, head of the communications group for the COVID-19 national immunization campaign, such cases have already been identified in several regions of the country. It should be reminded that employees of the Cantemir mayor's office, officials, economic agents and other persons in Edinet and Chisinau received doses of vaccines out of turn, the vaccine in Ceadir-Lunga, Ocnita, Rezina and Ungheni disappeared from the system. President Maia Sandu said she was "saddened by what has happened." "I requested the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection for a list. The 688 people who received their first Pfizer dose can be categorized as relatives. 139 are state employees, who I suspect can be advisers and so on," the head of state said. It is at least imprudent and reckless to "intercept" the vaccinations intended for medical workers, given that only half of them are immunized: they are already regularly infected and quit the ranks. Meanwhile, the epidemiological situation in Moldova is not getting better. Daily growth rates are not breaking new records yet, but they are still quite high. The number of patients with severe conditions, especially children, is increasing. The situation with mortality rates is worse: almost 50 people die every day. According to official data, the Republic of Moldova ranks 28th in the world in terms of the number of deaths from COVID-19. With an indicator of 5,003 deaths, we outnumbered China, the virus birthplace, in terms of the number of deaths. In this context, it was a matter of time to return to tighter restrictions. It is expected that within the framework of the 60-day long state of emergency the Commission for Emergency Situations will issue orders concerning a special regime of entry/exit and movement inside the country, quarantine and other mandatory sanitary measures, a special mode of operation for all subjects, a ban on mass actions and, if necessary, rationalized food consumption. A complete lockdown is not in question yet. The state of emergency is rather seen as an opportunity for the country's leadership to use the available resources more flexibly and quickly, for example, to reallocate the budget and attract the medical staff from private clinics. Time will tell what these 60 days will be for the country and whether they will help manage the third wave of the pandemic.