on the organization of the debate “Who is not afraid of COVID-19 and why?”. IPN debate”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Held on 14 August 2020, Debate No.149 brought together: Public health expert Ala Tokarchuk; Mihail Vîlcu, former patient of an intensive care section who “came back from the dead”; Adrian Belyi, head of the Clinical Anesthesia and Intensive Care Department of the Emergency Medicine Institute; Ion Jigău, director of the sociological research company C.B.S.-RESEARCH and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.
All the main indicators by which the management of the COVID-19 pandemic is measured remain worrisome in the Republic of Moldova. Besides the contribution made by the political class, the healthcare system and other components of the complex mechanism that influences the development of the health crisis, an important role is also played by society, especially the category of people who do not believe in the existence of COVID-19 or in the too big force of this virus and behave as such. The given category that is sufficiently large not to influence things was discussed by the invitees to the public debate “Who is afraid of COVID-19 and why”, which was staged by IPN News Agency.
IPN project’s standing expert Igor Boțan related that the structure of society according to the criterion of behavior, in connection with the pandemic, includes the persons who deny the existence of the virus, who, for their part, incorporate the “skeptics” and the “incredulous persons”. The skeptics are those who take part in intellectual debates and use the so-called “skepticism” and doubt the possibility of getting at the truth by reasoning. They have their truth when they take part in debates, use the principle of skepticism and put the “dogma supporters” in difficulty. From the viewpoint of intellectuals, skepticism is a very useful instrument.
The expert also said that the term “incredulity” perfectly describes the ordinary people who do not take part in philosophical or scientific debates. These are ordinary people with developed common sense and realism, but their life principles are “I do not see, I do not believe”. If a comparison between objective skeptics and ordinary people is made, the latter express their opposition to the necessity of changing the ordinary behavior until they do not feel the effects on themselves. In Moldova, about one third of the people are incredulous and consider that COVID-19 does not exist. Another one third of people believe, are afraid, but do not have the power and will to obey all the rules imposed by the authorities and specialists, while another third are precautious people. “These consider that they are ultimately right and they should serve as an example for the second category and for the first category. Those who deny the existence of the virus are usually the main source of infection,” said Igor Boțan.
Expert in public health issues Ala Tocarciuc said a classical epidemiological process related to an infectious disease has three mandatory components. The first component is the source of infection. The second component is the mechanism for transmitting this infection, while the third component is the host or the person who becomes infected. In the case of COVID-19, all the elements persist. There is the source of infection, which is the person who already contracted the virus, and there is the person who will be the host of the infection.
“Where are the denying people? There is a source of infection. If these people hadn’t denied, but protected themselves, they wouldn’t have contracted the virus. There are many denying people who are potential hosts of the infection. We should connect these people so that they communicate between them so as to avoid infections in the future,” stated the expert.
Mihail Vîlcu, former patient of an intensive care section who “came back from the dead”, said he learned from his own experience that “prevention is better than cure”. He got infected even if he took measures to protect himself. He was aware of the existence of the virus and protected himself as he knew that the virus attacks the respiratory tract, while he suffers from chronic bronchitis. Being under intensive care, he could not realize where he was. He then thought that he was in hell as the treatment and sufferings he experienced there were terrible.
“I continue to say that I was at the border between two worlds. Only God and doctors by their assiduous efforts helped me recover. I thank all those who did such enormous work. I call on all the skeptics to believe that this is something horrible and they should not go through something like this in life,” said Mihail Vîlcu.
Adrian Belyi, head of the Clinical Anesthesia and Intensive Care Department of the Emergency Medicine Institute who treated Mihail Vîlcu, said his patient is the typical case of a person who was unhappy to develop a severe form of the disease. The person received intensive treatment at their section. Fortunately, the treatment produced an effect. The used treatments are not very pleasant, especially when noninvasive mechanical ventilation is used. “When the patient chokes and does not have power to breath, the ventilator helps him to breathe through a mask with a special device that takes over a part of the respiratory force of the patient and enables him to create increased pressure in the lungs so as to facilitate the passage of oxygen to blood. This type of treatment can last for up to four weeks, until recovery, accompanied by the administration of other medicines,” stated Adrian Belyi.
“Ultimately, a large part of the patients recover and return to normal life,” said the doctor. However, the disease definitely has long-lasting consequences for the respiratory system, nervous system and digestive system. After being discharged from the hospital, a large part of the patients follow rehabilitation treatment. As many as 550 patients went through their intensive care section during the 107 days since when statistics at their institution started to be collected and the death rate is of 28%.
Ion Jigău, director of the sociological research company C.B.S.-RESEARCH, said 50% of the respondents of the last poll centering on COVID-19, when asked if they believe that the new virus is more dangerous than an ordinary flu, answered affirmatively. Many of the respondents were young people who do not believe in COVID-19. But there are now a series of diseases that started to affect younger persons, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and the young skeptics can have such a disease without knowing about it. They become more susceptible to COVID-19 in such a case.
According to Ion Jigău, the large number of people who consider that COVID-19 is ordinary flu is also due to the behavior of the public figures who say that this is ordinary flu, contributing this way to strengthening the social tendency to deny an absolutely evident fact.
The debate “Who is afraid of COVID-19 and why” was the 149th installment of the debates project “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.
The Agency published 9 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 14.08.20, „“Who is not afraid of COVID-19 and why?”. IPN debate” - https://www.ipn.md/en/who-is-not-afraid-of-covid-19-and-why-ipn-debate-8004_1075546.html; „Igor Boțan: COVID-19 negationists are not ill-intentioned; they are influenced by authorities” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ala-tocarciuc-presidents-intention-to-ask-for-russian-vaccine-8004_1075549.html; „Ion Jigău presents portrait of COVID-19 negationists” -https://www.ipn.md/en/ion-jigau-presents-portrait-of-covid-19-negationists-8004_1075548.html; „Ala Tocarciuc: President’s intention to ask for Russian vaccine against COVID-19 is hasty”- https://www.ipn.md/en/ala-tocarciuc-presidents-intention-to-ask-for-russian-vaccine-8004_1075549.html; „Igor Boțan: Science should be at forefront and should be popularized”- https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-science-should-be-at-forefront-and-should-be-8004_1075550.html; „Adrian Belyi: Some of patients with COVID-19 denied disease even when they received treatment for it” -https://www.ipn.md/en/adrian-belyi-some-of-patients-with-covid-19-denied-disease-8004_1075551.html; „Ala Tocarciuc: Pandemic can be overcome by multiplying positive behavioral models” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ala-tocarciuc-pandemic-can-be-overcome-by-multiplying-positive-behavioral-8004_1075552.html; ”Adrian Belyi: Health system needs assistance to counterbalance effects of doubt about virus”- https://www.ipn.md/en/adrian-belyi-health-system-needs-assistance-to-counterbala nce-effects-of-8004_1075553.html; “Ion Jigău: Local opinion leaders should mobilize to contain COVID-19”- https://www.ipn.md/en/ion-jigau-local-opinion-leaders-should-mobilize-to-contain-covid-8004_1075556.html.
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN