The price we might pay for the grand (post-) COVID-19 opening

A week after the eagerly awaited new COVID-19 restrictions, it’s time to face the real deal: Was the grand opening politicized, or was it well thought out? What’s the price citizens will pay for the government’s decision to ease measures, contradicting their initial, well-publicized goal of getting 5 million people vaccinated? (via Transindex)

Houston, we have a problem. While the vaccination campaign is (slowly) moving forward, the latest report from an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), shows that the official death toll reported in Romania has little to do with reality and that Romanian citizens might pay a high price for the early closure of the COVID-19 chapter and opening of the post-COVID-19 era. The problem is with the timing: (1) We are miles away from the 10 million inoculated goal set for the end of June, and (2) according to their study, only 56 percent of the population want to get vaccinated, compared to 75 percent recorded in January.

Relaxation measures were linked to vaccination criteria

The government originally planned the grand opening for June 1, and the criterion for this to happen was having 5 million inoculated people, which means roughly 30 percent of the population. As of now, the proportion of Romanian citizens who have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine is 20.2 percent. If everything goes as planned, we might reach 5 million by the end of May, and in June, 6 million.

The problem is, the vaccination campaign manager promised 10 million people with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June. Even if we reach 7 million vaccinated people, as projected by the IHME researchers, we are 3 million short of the original goal. The 10-million plan will now likely be reached sometime in September.

Even though the criterion was communicated to the public, the government decided to scrap that plan and relax restrictions, starting May 15.

Romania wasn’t on top of its COVID-19 crisis management

The above data takes on a completely new meaning if we view it through the lens of the IHME report, which takes into account how Romania reports the coronavirus death toll. The former Minister of Health Vlad Voiculescu warned that there is a discrepancy between the official COVID-19 death toll and the real numbers, and the IHME report backs that up with numbers.

The government has so far reported 29,000 virus deaths, but the real number is 89,619, according to IHME researchers, who dig deeper into the data available. That’s nearly three times what the government has officially communicated to the people, an alarming discrepancy, which triggers questions such as why would the government want to hide that death toll?


So, in light of the above, the post-COVID-19 chapter officially started on May 15, but at what cost? According to the IHME best-case scenario forecast, this could cost another 8,000 lives by September 1, pushing the total death toll of the coronavirus pandemic to 96,000. The worst-case scenario talks about 10,700 deaths by September 1. The researchers recommend wearing a mask to minimize the death toll, but that’s hard to do now that it’s officially allowed to leave our masks in our pockets in open spaces.

Author: István Fekete