A new dangerous coronavirus strain is spreading rapidly around the world. Perhaps in January the republic will have to face a new wave of morbidity – potentially the heaviest of all
The world has been living with the coronavirus pandemic for two years now, and there is still no finale – even approximately – visible in the near future. Vaccination due to the slow pace hasn’t ensured the expected cumulative effect. Basically, people are irresponsible concerning compliance with personal safety requirements: minimal lifting of the quarantine restrictions –and hello, a new statistical peak.
“COVID-19 is still here and is not going anywhere. It is already becoming obvious that the pandemic cannot be eradicated by vaccines alone. Yes, they prevent hospitalization and death for most vaccinated persons, slow down the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, the incidence, for some reason, does not decrease,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the other day, stressing that the continued spread of infection is caused by inequality in the distribution of vaccines, people’s unwillingness to get vaccinated, as well as “complacency”.
The incidence rates of COVID-19, which decreased from the end of August to mid-November, continue to grow. Today, the coronavirus has already been diagnosed in 273.4 million people, of whom 5.4 million have died.
A few months ago, we watched warily as the Delta strain was taking over the world. Omicron is in the spotlight now. The World Health Organization warns of its unprecedented rate of spread: discovered for the first time in South Africa at the end of November, it has already been confirmed in 77 countries. The number of infected persons doubles every two to three days. The WHO is no longer talking of “waves”, but of a COVID-19 infections “tsunami”.
According to David Nabarro, WHO’s special representative for combating COVID-19, the Omicron situation will become “8 times more severe in a week and 40 times more severe in two weeks.” Experts admit a scenario in which the spread of a new strain will result not only in morbidity increase, but also in hospitalization rates and mortality increase. This is due to the fact that, even if the lower lethality of this strain is confirmed, the rapid spread of the virus will become a strong stress for health systems. In such conditions, only with great luck will it be possible to avoid high mortality. As Nabarro himself confirms, he has “never been more concerned” about COVID-19.
Scientific research data show that Omicron multiplies in human bronchi 70 (!) times faster than the original version of the virus and the Indian Delta strain. At the same time, scientists also warn that due to the large number of mutations, Omicron may be resistant to vaccines and antibodies after the disease. For example, out of 16 officially registered cases of infection with a new strain in Russia, 11 persons had been vaccinated.
In Britain, Omicron is recognized as the biggest threat of the entire pandemic. “We are probably facing the most severe threat since the beginning of the pandemic. I believe that the figures [on the number of coronavirus cases] that we will see in the coming days will shatter our imagination in comparison with the increase in the incidence of previous variants,” says Jenny Harris, executive director of the United Kingdom Health Safety Executive.
There is no Omicron in Moldova yet. This is what experts of the laboratory that has finally appeared in our country for sequencing the coronavirus genome say. According to its head Ala Halacu, several dozen samples were tested, but Omicron was not confirmed in any case.
At the same time, health expert Ala Tocarciuc claims that there are definitely people infected with Omicron in Moldova. “I speak from my own experience – a member of my family got sick and did the test 6 times, all negative. Only general tests and analyses showed that it was COVID, but the person was already in a state of moderate severity. So there was an assumption that the reagents “can’t see” some strain. And then official data appeared that the PCR might not detect Omicron,” notes Ala Tocarciuc. She recommends that the authorities conduct a thorough analysis of negative tests, including in private laboratories.
Tocarciuc also calls on the Ministry of Health to be more open. “In a pandemic crisis, people expect transparency and communication. They are concerned about their families, health, and future. Openness in communication increases the feeling of security. But there is no such thing in Moldova, and it shows.” It is worth noting that last week the Ministry of Health canceled the traditional press conference without explanation. There has been no press secretary in the department for almost 5 months, and secretaries of state avoid calls from journalists.
Against this background, another statement by the Minister of Health Ala Nemerenсo, known for her “friendly” attitude to the population, sounds even stronger. This time she called Moldovan citizens spoiled by the possibility of choosing the type of vaccine against COVID-19. “Our people were spoiled with the vaccine choice. They choose the one they want, not just the vaccine that the country provides for free.”
The scandalous results of the audit of the Accounting Chamber are the last straw for the reputation of the Health Ministry. During the inspection, it turned out that more than 7 thousand doses of expired vaccine were administered to Moldovan citizens, more than 71 thousand vaccination certificates may be fake and 11 thousand doses of vaccine were simply lost. The Health Ministry, of course, refutes these accusations, but the loan of trust has already been exhausted.