Ala Tocarciuc: Moldova does not have much time to get ready for new COVID-19 wave

The Republic of Moldova should assess its response capacities in the context of the proliferation of the new Omicron variant in some regions of the world. The population testing capacity should be increased. “We must assess the testing capacities – how many tests we have, what kind of tests, in how many units testing can be done. The first blow to the health system will be on testing. Treatment and hospitalization come next. Assessment is needed on all these segments so as to see what we have and what we can supplement. We do not have much time to brace for this wave,” international public health expert Ala Tocarciuc, stated in a public debate hosted by IPN.

There is no official data about the presence of Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in Moldova for now. “There were sequenced 31 samples and only Delta was found. Samples should be yet taken weekly so as to see the evolution – when the first signs of Omicron presence appear and how swiftly it becomes dominant. According to data of other countries, for example the U.S., Omicron became the dominant variant in only seven days, rising from 10% to 76%,” explained Ala Tocarciuc.

“If we divide the population by segments, we can see that a large number of people can possibly meet with Omicron. It is hard to say how the disease will develop in these people. According to statistics (of other states, e.n.), we can say that about 20% of those infected will be hospitalized. We must get ready.”

The fact that Omicron hasn’t yet reached Moldova is due to a number of factors. “We are just overcoming the Delta variant wave during which we had a large number of cases of infection. Those people have immunity as they experienced the disease and are protected. The fact that we dealt with the British wave in March-April led to the delayed appearance of Delta,” said Ala Tocarciuc, noting the people who leave and enter Moldova contribute to bringing new variants, but the virus is not spread so swiftly in an environment where particular segments of the population are protected.

However, Ala Tocarciuc urged not to live with illusions. The British variant came with a delay of six months, while Delta came in three months after it was discovered in the UK. “I think this period will be shorter in the case of Omicron as the contagiousness of the virus increases. Also, we have a very low number of people who got the booster dose. Those who got vaccinated in March-May have a lower number of antibodies already. There are more susceptible to infection with Omicron than those who got a vaccine in September or than those who got boosters,” said the expert.

The public debate ”New Omicron variant: inheritance of 2021 for 2022. What should we do with it?” is the 220th installment of the series of debates “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. IPN’s project is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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