Tallinn mayor: If Sputnik vaccine is safe, it must be used

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If the Sputnik vaccine made by Russia is effective, Estonia should use it, Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) told Postimees on Thursday. He also reiterated the government should call an emergency situation.

"I believe that we must use it if the vaccine is effective, which our health experts have found it to be as far as I am aware. I believe that states are competing over who can vaccinate their population first. If we can get doses of the vaccine from Russia and China, we should seize this opportunity," he said.

Both Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and President Kersti Kaljulaid have said the Sputnik vaccine should be used in Estonia if the European Medicines Agency authorizes it for use in the EU.

As regards the need to declare an emergency situation in Estonia, Kõlvart said that if the country is effectively in an emergency situation, we should come out and say it and make things formal.

"In a situation where we already have one, we should come out and say it and make it official. It is not about what we call things but our actions. I said at the city government press conference [on Thursday] that the situation is bad, while we need to count on it getting worse. Decisions need to be based on what could happen three weeks, a month or two months from now as opposed to recent statistics. Measures need to be preventive, not reactive. We are currently reacting with a delay," the mayor said.

When asked about the need to bring in the defense forces in an emergency situation, Kõlvart said that it needs to be seriously discussed.

"Once we decide the situation is no longer critical but downright catastrophic, should we still limit ourselves to dialing back the opening hours of cafes and restaurants? There are a number of other fields where such an approach can be seen. Why wait if we see the situation getting out of hand? Why are we not acting preemptively? If a lockdown is what is required, we need to do it.
While we could discuss whether bringing out the army would be a suitable last resort measure, it would simply be for the sake of making headlines. Our problems are different in nature," he said.

When asked whether he has lost confidence in Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center), Kõlvart described the drive to politicize absolutely everything as "part of the problem."

"I have been talking about where the city stands as its mayor - irrespective of the makeup of the coalition and who is serving as health minister. This matter should not depend on political choices but the situation. And yes, we have been critical of the government's decisions, also during the previous coalition's time," the mayor said, pointing out that the choices of a single minister are not enough as members of the Cabinet decide matters together.

"Coronavirus measures are not decided by individual ministers," he added.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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