As herd immunity will not be achieved in Estonia this year, the best measure to limit the spread of coronavirus is still getting vaccinated, Health Board deputy director Mari-Anne Härma told ERR on Wednesday.
"Herd immunity is the main thing we are hoping on to limit the spread of infection, but we will not begin to limit the spread with herd immunity this fall or winter. Vaccinations have a greater role to stop people from getting hospitalized," Härma said on Vikerraadio's news show "Uudis+".
She noted that infections are currently highest in the regions where vaccine coverage is lowest. People who have recovered from the coronavirus should also get vaccinations, Härma said.
"Recovery also offers protections, but as the infection is spreading largely among those who were ill in March-April, the Delta variant is very effective in breaking through the protection that recovery causes. It is reasonable for everyone who recovered from the virus in spring to get vaccinated, it offers immunity," Härma said.
The Health Board official said the infection R rate is at 1.19, as of Wednesday, and will likely increase by some 10 percent a week in the upcoming weeks. This means the daily infection numbers will reach 400 in the final third of August.
The Health Board established a healthcare state of emergency on Wednesday, calling hospitals to prepare for an increased trend of hospitalizations in relation to the spread of the Delta mutation.
What is the R rate?
The reproduction number (R) is the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person.
An R value of 1 means that on average every person who is infected will infect 1 other person, meaning the total number of infections is stable.
If R is 2, on average, each infected person infects 2 more people. If R is 0.5 then on average for each 2 infected people, there will be only 1 new infection.
If R is greater than 1 the epidemic is growing, if R is less than 1 the epidemic is shrinking. The higher R is above 1, the more people 1 infected person infects and so the faster the epidemic grows.
R can change over time. For example, it falls when there is a reduction in the number of contacts between people, which reduces transmission. R increases when the numbers of contacts between people rise, leading to a rise in viral transmission.
Source: UK government website
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste