While notifications of coronavirus vaccines in development are encouraging, head of the government's scientific council Irja Lutsar says there is no reason to believe vaccines will make the pandemic disappear right away.
"Things always turn bad immediately and get better in time. The transition from corona-times to times without it will take place gradually, vaccines or not," Lutsar told ETV morning show "Terevisioon" on Tuesday.
The virology professor continued: "I dare not say that once we vaccinate 10,000 Estonians, we can just forget about the virus and begin preparing for a new disease."
Lutsar also said that while different pharmaceutical companies have published great results in vaccine trials, vaccinated people should still be monitored and further decisions should be made based on that.
"We have to see what these vaccines do - will they prevent illness, will they prevent spread. Decisions will be made based on these results," the professor noted.
In addition, information about people should be collected before vaccinating, she noted: "We cannot just line people up and start injecting. We have to talk with each person just a little. That will take some time."
Lutsar added that the great news is that there have been very few side effects reported. Trials to date have affected some 50,000 people and there have not been any yet.
She confirmed that those participating in trials will be monitored by pharma companies another two years. "They will see how long the vaccine's effects last and how effective it is. They will see if it protects the person in summer and also side effects and immunity, certainly - antibodies, cellular immunity. So the work is not finished for participants or the scientists," Lutsar said.
The virology professor added that while young people have not been tested yet, the vaccines have been as effective for older people as they have been for middle-aged people. "There have been all kinds of people in trials - people in risk groups, people with chronic diseases. The positive thing is that immunity for older people was the same as those middle-aged," she said.
Speaking of vaccinating in Estonia, Lutsar emphasized it would be naive to expect there to be vaccines for everyone in Estonia. "It is obvious that frontline health care workers will be vaccinated first and the second group will be made up of people in care homes," she explained.
The following rounds of vaccines would be other people with risk factors, such as teachers, store cashiers, perhaps even journalists. The vaccine would be available to other groups after.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste