The Health Board (Terviseamet) on Thursday denied reports circulating on social media that 53 vaccinated patients have died in Estonia from the coronavirus, and said that COVID-19 has been identified as the immediate cause of death of one vaccinated patient.
Hanna Sepp, head of the department for communicable diseases at the Health Board, said that for these 53 deaths, the final cause of death is not yet clear. The data is compiled from initial death notices which require further verification.
"I urge people to be calm and not to draw conclusions from social media posts aimed at sowing fear and confusion," Sepp said.
The official explained that when it comes to the deaths of the 53 vaccinated people, COVID-19 is noted as the underlying disease that triggers death, but as a rule, the person was treated for several other serious diseases at the same time.
For example, on the death notices was for a patient suffering from lung cancer, the doctor may initially indicate COVID-19 as the cause of death, but the final diagnosis is still cancer.
The data published on social media does not take into account the level of vaccination in society and whether the vaccination course was completed or not.
In 10 cases, the time required by the vaccine manufacturer to achieve immunity had not elapsed. Also, not every vaccinated person may develop the expected protection because their immune system has been weakened due to other underlying health conditions.
"People tend to forget that vaccination does not guarantee immortality. If a person has cancer, a coronavirus vaccine does not protect against this serious underlying disease. The vaccine does protect, however, against serious complications caused by the COVID-19 disease," Sepp said.
The Health Board also pointed out that vaccination started from at-risk groups and older people in general, which pushes up mortality rates among vaccinated people. Today's death statistics do not mean that those vaccinated are more likely to die, but reflect a natural process in which mortality among older people is higher, Sepp commented.
National statistics on deaths is available from the Institute for Health Development's register of causes of death.
So far, more than 712,000 people in Estonia have been vaccinated against coronavirus.
Editor: Helen Wright