Coronavirus Chronicle in Moldova: New Threats

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The rate of spread of COVID-19 in Moldova is decreasing. However, the situation remains tense due to the overcrowding of intensive care units with patients with severe forms of the disease. Doctors urge patients not to self-medicate, and healthy people to get vaccinated. At the same time, the situation abroad is disturbing
The world has been living in a new type of coronavirus pandemic for almost two years. The wave-like dynamics of morbidity gives health systems periodic respite. However, as experience shows, the recession is followed by another wave of growth. The current peak is considered the fourth. At the same time, experts are already predicting the fifth wave. It is, in particular, about the discovery of another coronavirus strain, which may be more dangerous than all previously known ones, including delta. The new variant contains more than 30 mutations, which indicates its high transmissibility and resistance to vaccines. Imperial College London virologist Tom Peacock called the combination of protein changes in the new variant “horrific”. He warned that the new variant of the coronavirus could potentially be “worse antigenically than nearly anything else”. In connection with the new strain, the World Health Organization is convening an emergency meeting today to discuss its potentially rapid spread. WHO experts will discuss whether this option should be considered “of concern” or “of interest”. According to experts, about 90% of new cases in South Africa’s Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, were caused by the new variant. To date, COVID-19 has been diagnosed in 260.5 million persons, 5.2 million have died. Meanwhile, Europe is still dealing with a growing fourth wave. WHO names among the reasons for the increase of the epidemic “the growth of social intermingling in conditions of insufficient vaccination, more contagious strains and the abolition of simple measures.” Belgian immunologist expert Jean-Luc Gala says that the main reason for the fourth wave is the refusal of part of the population to be vaccinated. “Vaccination works very well, without it, lockdown would have already been introduced throughout Europe. Basically, the problem lies in the part of the population that still refuses vaccination for various reasons”, the specialist emphasizes. Another reason for the increase in morbidity, the specialist called the time factor: more than six months have passed since the vaccination of many citizens, and some immunity has already weakened. The current wave is forcing European countries to introduce new restrictions, including for the unvaccinated. Austria was the first on the continent to introduce a universal lockdown. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have banned the use of a negative coronavirus test as an entrance ticket to public places. European Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides warns that in the near future, the rules for crossing EU borders will also be changed. Details of the changes are not disclosed, but it is known that from March 1, only vaccinated tourists from third countries will be allowed into the EU. WHO admits that 500 thousand persons may die from COVID-19 in Europe in winter if new urgent measures are not taken. This was stated by the regional Director of the World Health Organization, Hans Kluge. As German Health Minister Jens Spahn succinctly commented on the spike in infections, people will be “vaccinated, cured or dead” by the end of winter. Moldovan doctors also do not rule out a new outbreak of coronavirus after the winter holidays. Experts are confident that in January the number of morbidity cases will increase significantly. In this regard, they propose not to weaken the restrictions imposed and to maintain the ban on celebrations. Especially considering that the vaccination rate in Moldova is still low. Over a month and a half, there has only been a two percent-increase, up to 26%. The fifth wave will be a serious test for vaccinated citizens as well. Therefore, doctors urge the authorities to speed up the booster dose process, since immunization stops being effective over time due to viral mutations. Our country retains a downward trend in the infection rates which have been steadily declining for the past few weeks. The number of new cases has not exceeded a thousand cases mark over the past 10 days. During the past month, the number of current cases has almost halved. However, the situation remains difficult. While the total number of those infected is reducing, the number of patients with severe forms of COVID-19 is growing. Intensive care units are packed to capacity. In Chisinau, there were about 190 intensive care patients at the end of October, now there are more than 210. Almost 90% of them are not vaccinated, and most of them sought medical advice late. “Our patients are those who were unduly taking antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs at home. When admitted to the ICU, their condition is much worse than those who did not take antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs,” head of therapy at the Institute of Emergency Medicine Ivan Civirjic says. “Patients go to the doctor late or they think it’s a virus, they are treated at home, which is ineffective. They get to the family doctor and from the very beginning take antibiotics, dexamethasone, and only then they come to us, already at late stages,” Natalia Pretula, a doctor at the Institute of Emergency Medicine, adds. Intensivists say that some family doctors are trying to compensate for the crucial first days of the disease, lost by the patient as a result of self-medication, by prescribing antibiotics, because most of them have bronchitis or pneumonia. “But their use in the first seven days of the disease violates the immune response, that is, this disrupts the immune system, and in case of COVID-19 proper immunity plays an important role in the further development of events,” experts stress. According to officials, intensive care units have reached full capacity. First-line doctors urge patients with COVID-19 to seek help immediately after they have the first symptoms of the disease and all others - to be vaccinated. For reference: To date, 361 thousand citizens have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Moldova, 8985 of them died.