Government coronavirus adviser: Vaccinating over 80s should be priority

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Professor Irja Lutsar at a press conference. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Vaccinating the over eighties against the coronavirus should go ahead as a matter of urgency, the head of the government's coronavirus advisory council says, at a time when patient numbers among this demographic shows no signs of slowing up.

Reports that the AstraZeneca vaccine is largely safe to use, with countries, such as Lithuania, which had previously blocked it now going ahead with the product, has shifted the focus of vaccines away from younger demographics again, Professor Irja Lutsar, virologist at Tartu University and leader of the government's scientific council, says.

Lutsar said Tuesday that: "The number of people over the age of 80 in hospital has not fallen significantly. Their share [of all patients] has fallen, but this is the result of there being more younger people in the hospital. However, there are still a lot of people over the age of 80 currently hospitalized."

"We need to significantly increase the vaccination rates for the elderly and establish why they haven't been vaccinated yet," she added.

Given that restrictions in place are already stringent, there are few other options, Lutsar added, other than ensuring the regulations are actually adhered to.

"It is not the case of pointing the finger - people made their decisions at the time they were made - but perhaps the 70-year [upper] age limit on the AstraZeneca vaccine has shifted the focus away from the elderly, whereas it should be moved back there," she added.

The general coronavirus picture in Estonia is, Lutsar said the scientific council noted at its Monday meeting, still very critical.

Continuing high infection levels in Harju and Ida-Viru counties, long the most affected regions of the country, now joined by Länne-Viru County (sandwiched between Harju and Ida-Viru) and, even more recently, not insignificant rising rates in southern Estonia illustrate this, Lutsar said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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