Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) told ERR that the government wants a quicker vaccination process in Estonia, at the same time, the prime minister noted the state has done well with vaccinating and managing the logistics of vaccinations so far.
How satisfied are you with the pace of vaccinations in Estonia currently?
Certainly, one side, the hope that we had last year when the EU was in discussions and Pfizer entered the scene, there was the expectation that Pfizer's shipments would be faster, in larger capacities. As we see today, there are shipping difficulties.
Am I satisfied? We certainly cannot be satisfied with it, but today's (Monday - ed.) news say that Pfizer's next shipment should reach Estonia today (the second batch of Pfizer's vaccines arrived in Estonia after this interview - ed.).
When looking at how much Estonia has been able to vaccinate, then as always, we are comparing ourselves with other countires in the EU. Estonia has, when looking at the population, been able to do pretty well so far in vaccinating and managing the logistics around vaccinating. But our desire is to vaccinate faster.
Considering the state currently has around 10,000 vaccines, capable of 12,000 doses, should there be more people vaccinated than a couple of thousand?
Naturally, the expectation was greater, but the expectation was greater throughout the entire EU. As we know, all 27 EU member states walk together in procuring vaccines, it is done together, there are no two-sided contracts. If it were so, I think the opportunity to get vaccines would be tougher than it is today.
Of course, it is important that new vaccines get a sales permit and there is hope that Moderna could get a permit in the coming days, which should also give us more vaccine quantities. But we must still go forward with the goal of vaccinating risk groups at first, as they have a higher risk of infection and a more dangerous course. And of course, to prevent and to decrease COVID-19 and to decrease the number of deaths, to lessen the load on health care, the economy and to ensure the most normal societal operation as possible.
But why have the existing vaccines not been used?
We have dealt with vaccination trainings since the moment vaccines arrived in Estonia. Hundreds of people were trained at the end of the last year. It has given us the opportunity, when compared to other EU countries by population, Estonia has started vaccinating as quickly as possible. But if we are speaking of quantities, then certainly, our desire is to get extra doses. The government has made its decision, given the authority to the social minister (Tanel Kiik - ed.). As we know, Pfizer is talking to the European Commission about additional shipments and Estonia has already asked for more.
How has Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik handled getting vaccines and managing the organization of vaccinations?
I think Tanel Kiik has given his best along with his team in the social ministry and his officials to make sure Estonia has vaccines. But not just that. So that they would be stored as regulations see fit and that people would be trained. His commitment to work is high and I respect that.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste