Health minister: No COVID-19 summer wave likely

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Health minister Tanel Kiik on Tuesday's 'Ringvaade'. Source: ERR

A major upsurge in coronavirus numbers in summer is not likely to occur, despite the easing of restrictions, health minister Tanel Kiik (Center) says. Progress on the national vaccination program will also help to avoid such a scenario, Kiik added.

"We really are not underestimating the likelihood of seeing a COVID-19 explosion during the summer months," Kiik told ETV current affairs show "Ringvaade" Tuesday

A major spike would in fact mean everything was going wrong, he added.

"[It would mean] new strains would be arriving that are immune to the vaccine, it would transpire that the coronavirus likes the sunshine, it would mean the Estonian populace had ditched all its responsible behavior. I don't think these things will happen all at once," Kiik said.

By the end of this week around 400,000 people in Estonian would have received at least one coronavirus vaccine, while 100,000 people have contracted the virus overall since the pandemic began, he added, while the infection rate is around the figure it was on November 1 last year, on the eve of the most recent COVID-19 wave, he said.

Kiik also said that travel to Estonia's immediate neighbors should be easier as well, during summer.

The minister did acknowledge the risk of the easing restrictions reversing things somewhat, which made vaccination all the more important through May and June.

"Vaccination is the only sure way to end these restrictions and get back to normal living," he said, adding the goal is to have 70 percent of adults in Estonia inoculated by the autumn, which would mean re-imposing restrictions would be less likely.

As to the future, Kiik said the cabinet is discussing the next round of agreements with vaccine manufacturer Pfizer/BioNTech, in case re-vaccination is required next year.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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