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COVID-19. The fourth wave: whether to expect for long lockdowns

Photo: fernando zhiminaicela/Pixabay

Photo: fernando zhiminaicela/Pixabay

The situation with COVID-19 in the summer of 2021 is quite alarming. For instance, the Russian Federation announces official figures of 25,000 cases. This is a record since January. And mortality has already beaten the old record from the very beginning of the epidemic—787 patients per day. Never before has official Moscow recognized the figure of more than 700 deaths in 24 hours.

And the question is not even about the Indian delta strain that has mutated in conditions of absolute unsanitary conditions and chaotic carry-over in the slums and a fairly strong immunity of people in the region. It is this variant that is now being identified in the laboratory in 90% of sick Russians. Although, undoubtedly, the delta strain is twice as contagious and gives a higher percentage of the critical course in young patients.

The only question is that the average figures for immunization in the regions of the Russian Federation rarely exceed 10-15%. Selling the unparalleled Sputnik vaccine to Hungary and Serbia is one thing, but providing it for the country’s own citizens is a bit different. Moreover, back in January, the Russian authorities promised to produce 70 million doses of Sputnik for the regions by the summer. But they managed to ship about 35 million. In addition, opinion polls show that a third of Russians do not want to be vaccinated, and many are even ready to quit in the case of compulsory vaccination. The data show that there are 10-15% of those who are ready to give up their jobs.

The Sputnik vaccine is, in principle, effective. According to Berezin Medical Institute in St. Petersburg , out of 2,481 cases of pneumonia detected last week, vaccination with two doses was completed in 57 people. It is clear even without special education, how different the chances of vaccinated and unvaccinated people are to get pneumonia or be in need of mechanical ventilation. But this is where, by the way, the urban legends come from: they say, everyone had been vaccinated and still got sick.

No COVID-19 vaccine in the world has been clinically proven to be 100% effective against severe forms of the virus. As in due course, neither were the vaccines against tuberculosis and poliomyelitis. However, it never occurred to anyone to criticize oral drops against polio because of the 92% protection.

Israel illustrates well what is happening: the vaccination campaign has been completed, but now those whose 93% protection from the severe course (Pfizer) did not work are hospitalized. Even boosters are injected—the third dose of the drug to risk groups, although 2,900 active cases and 68 people in serious condition throughout the country are a little different from the situation in September 2020, when hundreds of intensive care beds were occupied, and 8,000 people with an active form of the disease were identified a day.

10 critical patients versus 180 per week—is it a considerable difference in the burden on the medical system, bed occupancy, and resources spent? A similar situation is in the UK: there mortality is 20 times less than it was at the peak of the previous wave.

The simplest example of two scales that sum up the results of a multi-month vaccination campaign is the United States and the Russian Federation. It is the end of July 2021 in the calendar. If we take the statistics of those vaccinated and mortality, then Russia at this stage is worse than Asia, not to mention the developed Western countries: if in the USA there are 150 deaths per day, then in the Russian Federation—780. The difference is obvious, especially if counting for a million of the population.

A third of Russians still do not want to be vaccinated, mainly for completely wild reasons. About a thousand people have died during 24 hours? But on the other hand, they were not microchipped, preserved reproductive function and avoided the long-term unknown side effects of vaccination. The level of obscurantism and anti-vaccination sentiments in almost the entire post-Soviet countries is egregious. And alas, we are no exception, too.

In general, where Ukraine will go in the fall with our 4% of citizens who have completed vaccination, out of 40 million inhabitants, is already obvious. So far, we are saved by low mobility of the population and insignificant traffic with countries where more dangerous strains are raging, which, according to WHO forecasts, will become dominant on the planet over the next year. But in the fall it will definitely hit again, and hit hard.

It is already clear from the decisions of the leading countries’ governments that the situation is far from over. For instance, Italy has extended the emergency regime for another six months imposing "green passports" after France and Great Britain. Israel is closing its borders with 4 countries, including Turkey, since Monday. Spain has a curfew in Catalonia. Singapore has closed restaurants and other catering facilities—only terraces work. In South Korea, from September 1, entrance to all types of public transport, shops, cafes, cultural institutions is only through turnstiles and special electronic cards. And these are countries that have much better vaccination statistics than Kyiv.

The rate and effectiveness of a vaccination campaign in Ukraine will mean the difference between thousands of lives and thousands of deaths in the fall. Try to get vaccinated before the beginning of the fourth wave because vaccination on the example of Israel, the United States, and Britain shows extremely high efficiency. We will definitely not have time to create a collective immunity prior to the wave, but every life is priceless. Especially if it's yours.

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