Head of the government's coronavirus advisory council, Professor Irja Lutsar, has told ERR that the coronavirus delta strain is not likely to infect children more than other varieties of the virus. She says she also considers the fact that a third of the elderly are not vaccinated to be the bigger issue.
ERR had asked Lutsar to comment on some statements given in Estonian publications that the delta strain hits children especially hard. Lutsar said that this is not the case.
"I don't have any information that more children are infected by the delta strain. In a number of states in the U.S., the overall infection rate has risen, and if it does, of course, children are infected more as well. I agree with [head of Tallinn Children's Hospital Dr. Katrin] Luts that there is no need to create any panic in this regard," Lutsar said.
"According to the latest figures, there are 1,900 children currently hospitalized in the U.S., which is not a very large number, given the country's 300 million population. I have also spoken to English experts who have already gone through it and they didn't see an increase in the number of hospitalized children," Lutsar.
"The number of people admitted to the hospital was lower than during the peak period of alpha strain and the mortality rate was also lower. But the infection rate of children was low," Lutsar said.
During the third wave of the virus, the infection rates have not been much lower than before, but Lutsar said that the numbers of people who have been hospitalized have been significantly lower.
"If we look at Iceland, for example, it seems that the wave of infection is the highest right now, but the last death was in May. Before the delta strain."
Lutsar does not see any signs of the virus declining in Estonia at the moment. She considers it a problem that, unlike in the U.K. or Iceland, for example, Estonia's vaccination rate is not progressing too well, especially among older people.
"We still have 30 percent of the 60-plus population unvaccinated, and that also affects the course of our virus."
A coronavirus certificate should be requested at all events
Lutsar does not consider what she called Lithuania's extreme measure that only people with a coronavirus certificate can enter shopping centers to be the right course. However, she finds that requesting proof of coronavirus vaccination at events doesn't add anything either.
She said: "The scientific council supports the approach of asking for a coronavirus certificate at events. When I went to the opinion festival over the weekend, it worked pretty well."
Lutsar added that vaccinated people are four to five times less likely to be infected, and more than 10 times less likely to be hospitalized if infected.
"Greater rates of vaccination would make our situation better. Vaccinated people are sick for a shorter time, recover more easily and are less likely to pass the virus on to others," Lutsar said.
In other words, Estonia's way out of the third wave is to call people who have not yet been vaccinated, to do so.
Editor: Roberta Vaino