The sixth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is starting to make its presence felt in Romania as well, will have a peak somewhere in August, but the authorities assure that there will no longer be restrictions of the severity of a lockdown, although the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron, which is currently circulating, is much more contagious and has, in addition, an element of novelty.
However, the way the virus is transmitted has not changed, and in the absence of a more effective vaccine variant against this strain – a vaccine that could only appear in the fall – the most important “weapon” to protect us remains the mask, Andrei Baciu, secretary of state in the Ministry of Health told Digi24.
“This virus will be with us from now on and we will see such situations (waves of infections – n.r.), but we hope and believe that they will be more and more gentle, with less and less impact on people , at the individual level. But it will not disappear. And then it’s a matter of adopting behaviors that protect us as much as possible, but at an individual level, because at a collective level we know what we have to do and I don’t think it will be enough – at least we, in Romania, firmly do not take considering the introduction of restrictions or in any case situations like lockdown”, said the Secretary of State.
“This BA.5 subvariant of Omicron is more contagious, but existing data says it does not come as severely, with a greater impact on the infected organism. We are talking about the same clinical picture, we are talking about the same people at risk“, stated Andrei Baciu.
“Only one element is new, the fact that it causes a lower antibody reactivity, which is why we see more and more cases of reinfections. People who have been infected in the recent past have not acquired enough immunity as a result of going through the disease, and then they can get sick. So this is a new thing that has come up in the last few months, the feeling that we have acquired an immunity, but the fact that we got sick a few months ago and we have protection (no longer a guarantee) – really, we have a protection, but this is less than the protection we gained by going through the disease in the past, with other variants of the coronavirus,” the health official explained.
Now, fortunately, there are not many patients in the hospitals, there are around 3,000, of which 186 adults and three children are in intensive care. However, specialists from the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Public Health have made several scenarios, because an increase in the number of cases is expected to reach a peak. “There are two scenarios: one, to peak sooner, in early August, and the second scenario – to happen somewhere towards the end of August. Be that as it may, we see that there is an increase in the number of cases”, pointed out Andrei Baciu.
The Health ministry official said that the Romanian authorities do not consider any restrictions to be imposed at this point, but they do have the classic recommendations.
The basic recommendation remains to wear the mask in crowded spaces, especially if they are also closed. “We know how to do protection. Regardless of the virus variant, the method of transmission has not changed and therefore the method of protection has not changed: the mask remains very important“, Baciu argued.
A more effective vaccine against the Omicron variant, expected this autumn
With the emergence of the new wave of Covid infections around the world, caused by the Omicron variant, there have been discussions about a modified vaccine, which would be adapted to this strain and which would be more effective, because the viral variants have evolved and the vaccines now on the market no longer offers high protection. A call in this regard was recently made even by the WHO, which asked researchers to develop new vaccines capable of reducing the number of infections. Such an adapted vaccine could appear in the fall, Andrei Baciu announced.
European Health Commissioner asks EU states to prepare for new wave of COVID-19: Outbreaks are worrying
European Union member states should start preparing now for a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in autumn and winter, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said on Monday. She warned that outbreaks had multiplied “alarmingly”.
The European official also pointed out that there is no place to relax and that the pandemic is not over. “Unfortunately, the pandemic has shown a worrying increase in infections in some countries,” Stella Kyriakides told the public radio station of Cyprus, her native country. “Over the last two months we have been preparing for autumn and winter, fully aware that the next pandemic wave cannot and should not put more pressure on our economies and societies, especially at a time when they are already affected the war and the invasion from Ukraine, as well as inflation,” she added.