Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik (Center) said on Tuesday 40,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine could be administered by the end of January now Estonia is receiving weekly deliveries of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. He also said, so far, the Christmas holidays have not led to a spike in infections.
"If we talk about the first dose, then by the end of January we could have about 40,000 who have received the first vaccine dose. Then, the first people can get the second vaccine dose already," Kiik told ERR.
He said this amount would be enough to cover the health care system and nursing homes, taking into account that not everyone is likely to want to be vaccinated.
Kiik said there is no reason to doubt that future deliveries of the vaccine will be smaller or delayed. "This gives us the confidence to use the majority of the vaccine doses that have already arrived in Estonia," Kiik said, although he added some would be kept in reserve.
For the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to offer immunity two doses are needed 21 days apart, only after a person has received the second dose are they considered to have been vaccinated. Kiik, there are no plans to change this system, following the example of Great Britain.
Estonia has received almost 20,000 doses of the vaccines so far, the first on December 26 and second on January 4. So far, 3,188 people have been vaccinated with the first dose.
Infection rate shows signs of stabilization
Kiik said there are signs the spread of coronavirus in Estonia is starting to stabilize.
He said there were signs from the University of Tartu's monitoring study that 1.2 to 1.3 percent of the population are virus carriers, similar to in November. The number of people receiving hospital treatment has stabilized and the result from wastewater monitoring studies have shown a downward trend for the last few weeks.
He said that, although it was still too early to assess the impact of New Year's Eve, it is likely the Christmas period did not lead to a big rise in the disease. It is hoped the government can now start to gradually ease the restrictions currently in place, especially those related to education.
Editor: Helen Wright