Scientific council: Long way to go before restrictions can be dropped

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Irja Lutsar. Source: ERR / Siim Lõvi

While Nordic countries are announcing that they are dropping coronavirus restrictions or that they have reached their desired levels of vaccinations, Estonia still has a long ways to go, the government's scientific council head Irja Lutsar told ERR.

"Estonia's situation is a little different. If we look at vaccination indicators in Denmark, 71 percent of their population have been vaccinated with two doses. That is a very high number, we still have a long ways to go. That is the reason Denmark, Sweden and Norway can make much different decisions (than Estonia - ed)," Lutsar told ETV's daily affairs show "Ringvaade" on Thursday evening.

There is no official vaccination goal set in Estonia, which would mark the end of national coronavirus restrictions. The government's advisory scientific council offered 70 percent as the rate, meaning 70 percent of the adult population must have completed their vaccination process.

Lutsar said it is impossible to say when Estonia will reach that threshold. "Everyone knows our vaccination pace has decelerated. I do not know what else to do than call people to get vaccinated," the virology professor said.

She pointed out that Europe can basically be divided into two based on vaccination rates: eastern and western Europe. "The vaccination process has been very systematic in West Europe, it started with the older age groups. Before they reached a certain level in the group, they did not go lower," Lutsar explained.

She noted that Estonians not being active vaccinators was prior knowledge. "We knew that the Estonian adult population was among the last in Europe for influenza vaccinations, if not the last. We were far-far behind other countries. It is likely that the tradition in the Nordic countries is longer and historic, we cannot say that for Estonia," the professor said.

Lutsar noted that it is hard to predict what the hospitalization rates will look like in a month or two, but data from the last few weeks shows that while the number of hospitalized patients has grown, the trend has been slower. "If we stay on this pace, the number of hospitalized patients will not double in a month," the scientific council head said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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