Government coronavirus advisor: Anti-body rates in South Estonia lower

Irja Lutsar, chief of the government's coronavirus advisory council.
Irja Lutsar, chief of the government's coronavirus advisory council. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Irja Lutsar, head of the government's scientific council, says that coronavirus anti-body research shows that while 70 percent of people in most of Estonia's counties have anti-bodies, in four counties in South Estonia, people display significantly lower levels. At the same time, these regions currently also have a higher rate of coronavirus infection than the national average.

Võru and Valga counties, and to some extent also Viljandi and Tartu counties, currently have the highest spread of coronavirus.

In contrast, the former infection leader Ida-Virumaa is one of the counties with the lowest infection, although fewer people have been vaccinated there.

Lutsar said that suffering from virus creates immunity and it doesn't make much difference which is better and which is worse.

"If we look at other countries, the infections aren't even across the country. If we look at the U.K., for example, we can see Northern Ireland, which is essentially black on the map. By contrast, some regions, such as Scotland, are green."

Lutsar added that this means that the virus spreads primarily in communities.

"Ida-Viru County and South Estonia do not have any interaction with each other. The high counties of infection are Võru, Valga and to a lesser extent Viljandi and Tartu counties. It spreads primarily via communities and families."

Lutsar added that this certainly plays an important role that Ida-Virumaa has had a high infection rate for the whole year.

"If you look at anti-body research, there are fewer people with anti-bodies in the three counties of Southern Estonia. The remaining 70 percent have anti-bodies, including in Ida-Viru County," she went on.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Monday that Germany should refrain from monitoring the rate of infection in the management of health care and should be based on the number of people in hospitals.

Lutsar said that Estonia has always taken into account the number of people in hospitals when making decisions, and this is what has allowed us to keep the country more open. More than in Germany.

Lutsar added, however, that it is not possible to stop monitoring real infection indicators, because infection and hospital treatment are correlated - if the infection rate increases, then in a few weeks the workload of hospitals will also rise in line with that.

On Monday evening, the scientific council also discussed third vaccine doses and the situation in Israel, where the infection rate has increased, Lutsar added.

"In Israel, nearly 40 percent of the population is still unvaccinated. At first, they started off quickly and reached 60 percent, but the progress has stopped. And there are large communities that oppose vaccination. I would stress the word communities. And their vaccination levels cannot be increased."

Another important factor relating to the increase in infection in Israel is that the population density in that country is much higher than in Estonia.

"It's a virus of cities and dense communities. A more widespread delta strain will certainly play a role. Last week, Reuters reported that 70 percent of people in hospitals in Israel are completely unvaccinated. Of course, this will start to play a role," Lutsar went on.

As for the third protective injection, which was also discussed by the council, Lutsar said that there is still a lot of ignorance on vaccinations as a whole, which is why the council has not yet issued any new recommendations.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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