Kõlvart: No point waiting for Sputnik vaccine to reach Estonia

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Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

People should not wait for the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to be introduced in Estonia, Mayor of Tallinn Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) has said.

Kõlvart was replying to a written question from the council's Reform faction chairman Kristen Michal who asked if the mayor supported a story written by editor-in-chief of Tallinn newspaper Stolitsa which said it is worth waiting for the Sputnik vaccine. Stolitsa is funded by Tallinn City Council.

Kõlvart replied that no one, including the editor-in-chief of Stolitsa, can say whether or not the Sputnik V vaccine will ever be widely used in the European Union or in Estonia. The vaccine has not been authorized for use by the European Medicines Agency.

"At the moment, however, we can only count on vaccines for which supplies have been contracted. I recommend getting vaccinated with the offered vaccine in any case unless there are medical restrictions not to do so," he wrote.

Michal also asked if Kõlvart thinks Stolitsa's editor-in-chief should continue in the role. The mayor said he had not been informed of any issues that would make this a problem.

"Dislike of the editor-in-chief's views cannot be the basis for the question of whether or not they will continue in office," he wrote.

Asked if he is willing to set a public example and get vaccinated, Kõlvart said he will definitely get vaccinated when his age group can do so.

Kõlvart is 43 and currently, vaccination is not open to the under 50s. He has previously said there is no reason for him to get vaccinated before frontline workers such as bus drivers.

The mayor submitted his answers to Kristen Michal last month but the topic will be discussed by the city council today.  

Currently, Estonia is administrating the Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Janssen and Moderna vaccines. It has been reported previously that some Russian-speaking Estonians have said they would prefer to wait for Russia's Sputnik vaccine.

President Kersti Kaljulaid and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) have both said that if the Sputnik vaccine is authorized by the European Medicines Agency then there would be no reason not to use it in Estonia.

"It is a vaccine like all the others," Kallas said in February. "Russia perhaps uses Sputnik in pursuing its political objectives. Why they are not vaccinating their own population but are offering this vaccine to outside - it's in order to increase their clout, the same is being done by China."

"But if the European Medicines Agency says that it is a good vaccine, it will be as good a vaccine for us as all others," Kallas said. "It should not be a political instrument, but people should get vaccinated."

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Editor: Helen Wright

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