While the mask requirement in the current coronavirus situation in Estonia can seem from some quarters as an infringement of rights, Chief medical officer at the Health Board (Terviseamet) Doctor Arkadi Popov, recommends anti-mask protesters to consider those people whose lives can potentially be saved by halting the spread of the virus.
Commenting on opposition to masks, now a requirement in public places and on public transport across Estonia, Popov told Vikerraadio morning program "Vikerhommik" that there are some contradictions in the current mask situation in Estonia.
On the one hand, there are masks, on the other hand, there are the lives and health of the elderly, which should be taken into account by everyone else, Popov noted.
"We are moving towards a stage where the epidemic is progressing and, at the same time, I see that there are certain groups of people who are expressing their opinions quite actively. I understand that people feel a little harassed, as if their freedom is restricted, but I ask people to think more about others, and especially the older people who suffer the most from the virus," Popov said.
"Nobody can think that we should let older people suffer and die; it is unacceptable to me and it is absolutely unacceptable in the modern world."
Popov emphasized that the fight against the coronavirus requires solidarity to work. "That we wouldn't divide that we should make an effort for another two or three months. Most probably, the most serious period we are facing, including Christmas and the arrival of seasonal viruses, means we need to come together in the fight against the virus," Popov said.
Since the developers of coronavirus vaccines have announced progress over the recent weeks, Popov believes that next year, the vaccine will be everywhere in the world. Regarding the skeptics, Popov thinks there are those who simply can't be persuaded.
"It's very important that the majority of the population is vaccinated. Even if 50 or 60 percent are vaccinated, it gives us herd immunity and we can move forward completely freely, without fear," he explained.
For those who say that vaccines can cause autism, Popov said research has disproved such claims. "Vaccination has not been proven to cause autism."
Currently, one of the claims of vaccine skeptics is that vaccines have been too little researched, due to fast development. Popov agrees, adding that this is not cause for concern, however. "Half a year is not enough to show us 100 percent results, but all the results that are now available indicate the vaccines being safe enough; there have not been any serious side effects from any vaccine which we are currently awaiting arrival on the market that could endanger human life or health."
Editor: Roberta Vaino