Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: Is the Situation under Control?

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Marina DRAGALIN Moldova managed to establish a logistic chain (humanitarian and paid one) for drugs supply against COVID-19. The population immunization program is fully acting and showing good results. However, according to experts' forecasts, by the end of May the country can expect a new jump in the incidence The epidemiological situation in the world keeps remaining extremely tense. More than 156 million cases of coronavirus infection have already been recorded; out of them 3.26 ended fatally. Of particular concern are regions showing the lowest COVID-19 vaccination coverage. A striking example is the Indian crisis. The importance of access to vaccines in the fight against the pandemic becomes more evident every day. The global task of ensuring the production of a sufficient number of doses of drugs comes to the fore. The World Health Organization is promoting the idea of waiving patents for coronavirus vaccines as a solution. For months, WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has urged countries within the World Trade Organization's Intellectual Property Rights negotiations to suspend patent rules for those vaccines that are approved to be usedif emergencies. And so, this week’s landmark news was the US presidential administration statement to support this proposal. Ghebreyesus even called it "a notorious moment" in the fight against coronavirus. The final decision has not yet been made, but one can already feel its consequences. For example, shares of large pharmaceutical companies producing vaccines fell: Moderna alone lost more than 6%. And all this despite the fact that it was its COVID drug to be named as the best one at the World Vaccine Congress held on May 5. The Congress highly appreciated as well the American-German vaccine Pfizer/BioNTech, whilst the Russian Sputnik V andthe drug developed by the British-Swedish AstraZeneca jointly with the University of Oxford shortlisted the nomination. Moldova is a good example of vaccination effectiveness amidst controlling the COVID-19spread. During its two months, the campaign administeredalmost 172 thousand doses and about 22 thousand people managed to receive both vaccinedoses. The incidence rates continue declining. Since March, the number of tests performed has increased to 5,000 or more per day and the rate of positive results has dropped to 10%. Last week, the number of new cases decreased by another 30%, and the number of recoveries exceeds the number of cases by almost one and a half times. In total, 252 thousand peoplegot infected in Moldova and 5912 out of them have died. However, epidemiologists' alarming forecasts slightly ruin the rosy picture. As they say, the recently registered low increase in new cases does not correspond to reality, and the Ministry of Health representatives expect a significant increase in cases in the second half of May. "Most of the Chisinau residents have moved to rural settlements, therefore family doctors were approached less. But in 14 days, COVID- 19 cases in the Republic of Moldova will have a different dimension," Daniela Demiscan, head of the Public Health Department of the Ministry of Health, said. Experts also draw attention to the fact that due to the incubation period, the Easter holidays consequences will later affect the disease statistics. "We will have a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in two weeks. It has been proven that any gathering of people leads to an increase in the number of infected. Vaccination will not have enough effect to contain this growth. The number of vaccinated people is still extremely small to speak of herd immunity," Boris Gilca, deputy head of the Chisinau Health Department, said. At the same time, the vaccination campaign continues and gradually moves to the next level. Following the local authorities' decision, Chisinau has started the third vaccination stage. This decision was made after the number of people willing to get vaccinated had almost tripled in a few days, with queues lining up at the vaccination centers (of course, most of them are pensioners who want to get a Sputnik V shot). Nevertheless, the third phase is officially launched and President Maia Sandu has received the first dose of the vaccine today. The head of state was vaccinated at the State Chancellery clinic in Chisinau with the AstraZeneca serum, the most common one in Moldova. Considering its regular supplies in the near future in accordance with the re-sale agreement with Romania, through the COVAX platform and in the form of Romanian humanitarian aid, extra PR support for this vaccine will not go amiss.