Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: Will the Country Receive the Sputnik V?

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Marina DRAGALIN Despite the fact that since state of emergency introduction the growth in the number of cases has somewhat slowed down, Moldova ranks the 18th in the world for the number of COVID-19 cases and the 16th for deaths number After a short recession, widely spreading new coronavirus strains brought the epidemiological situation back to the last autumn level. In many countries experts talk about a third wave and register an increase in severe cases and deaths. Worldwide, almost 134 million people have already been infected. Out of them 2.9 million people have already died. Situation worsening forces authorities to maintain quarantine restrictions and introduce new ones. Recently, however, this has increasingly provoked protests from the population. Over the past week, only in the EU, thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest against restrictive measures. Rallies and protests without observing sanitary requirements were held in Romania, Germany and France. In Switzerland, policemen were forced to use rubber bullets and tear gas against young men armed with Molotov cocktails. Protests against factories closing were also held in several Italian cities. Clashes between demonstrators and police resulted in injuries on both sides. In Moldova, the state of emergency introduced on April 1 has not yet caused such a negative reaction, which, however, can be explained by refraining from applying the most severe restrictions, and even more so a lockdown. However, according to Tatiana Zatic, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health, such measures may still be introduced in the coming days. “We are working on measures and proposals at the level of the working group of the Commission for Emergency Situations. In the coming days, some changes will be made to this provision,” the official said. The possibility of introducing new restrictions is associated with the continuously difficult epidemiological situation. Despite the fact that over recent days there has been a decrease in new cases growth, the situation remains extremely difficult. Our country ranks the 18th in the world for the number of COVID-19 cases and 16th for deaths number. Almost 238 thousand residents have tested positive for coronavirus, whilst another 20 thousand are under doctors’ supervision. 5268 people have already died: every fifth patient in intensive care fails overcoming the virus. A record number of COVID-19 deaths were recorded last week. “An indicator that cannot but grieve: a record number of deaths reached 309 per week. On average, every 40 minutes one person dies,” Mihail Pasla, a spokesman for the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Nicolae Testimitanu said. A high number of severe cases are registered - 316 patients are in critical condition. The number of COVID-19 infected children and pregnant women keeps growing. There are still high incidence rates among medical personnel - at the moment, more than 19.5 thousand healthcare workers have been coronavirus infected. The second COVID-19 immunization campaign phase continues in the country. In addition to health workers, people over 60, people with concomitant diseases get vaccinated as well since for them coronavirus increases as risks to develop severe forms as death risks. The decision on vaccination is to be made by the family doctor after evaluating the list of registered persons and depending on the availability of vaccine doses. According to the Intelligent Data Company survey, almost half of the adult population in our country agree to be COVID-19vaccinated but only a fifth is willing to pay for it. Most of respondents give preference to the Sputnik V vaccine (35%) and BioNTech / Pfizer (19%). At the same time, more than 20% of respondents noted they do not care about the manufacturer. One of this week’s positive news was allocation of a large batch of Russian Sputnik to our republic - 182 thousand doses (including 62 thousand for the Transdniestrian region). It will be provided by Russia as humanitarian aid. This information has already been confirmed by the Moldovan Ministry of Health. At the same time, there are talks about purchasing even more doses, although, according to the interim prime minister Aureliu Ciocoi, the process might take two years. Speaking of vaccinations, it should also be noted that the National Public Health Agency Commission has completed an investigation into the facts of National Vaccination Plan’s violations. Almost 400 people were vaccinated out of turn in 29 regions of the country. “The analysis showed that the registration procedure was not always followed, not all of these people were included in the lists according to the rules. For example, in some centers, health workers were included in other categories. It is sad that someone wants to be vaccinated out of turn, bypassing those who are at increased risk of infection,” Ninel Revenco, Communication Group for Vaccinations coordinator said. It remains to be seen if anyone is held accountable.