Government coronavirus advisory council chief: Schools should stay open

Irja Lutsar.
Irja Lutsar. Source: ERR / Siim Lõvi

Professor of virology and chief of the government's scientific council Irja Lutsar says that schools should not be closed during this virus season, as children suffer through, and recover from, the coronavirus very easily.

"Schools should keep open. For the third year in a row, we probably can't afford partial in-classroom education," Lutsar told ERR.

"Now we also have enough data that the coronavirus is a mild virus among children. We are seeing this for the third season, we are seeing it in all countries," she added.

Lutsar said that very few children have so far been hospitalized due to the coronavirus. "Some days there are two, some days three, and they're not all purely down to the coronavirus," she said.

"We feared children getting infected mainly as they could pass the virus on to their parents and their grandparents. But older people have had vaccines available since January, parent-aged individuals since May. So when parents and grandparents get vaccinated and protected, we are not so worried about children as carriers of infection," Lutsar said.

Lutsar says she doesn't currently have a view on whether children between the ages of five and 11 should be vaccinated against the virus. She noted that children are generally vaccinated against diseases that they suffer from very severely, such as diphtheria, rubella or mumps.

Lutsar said that the main argument for vaccinating children against COVID-19 is that schools can then be kept open.

"We need to make it clear to ourselves what problem we are going to solve," Lutsar said.

Regarding the current situation of the spread of the virus, Lutsar said that the infection numbers are rising, but that the numbers of people entering the hospital have been quite stable during September.

On the different coronavirus strains, Lutsar said that at the moment it does not seem that a new coronavirus strain is emerging to replace the delta variant.

"I have not seen any mutation that might overtake the delta strain," Lutsar said.

"At the present moment, the coronavirus seems to have built its strategy on the fact that every subsequent strain that comes must be more prevalent. Another possibility is that the next strain that comes will cause a more serious disease, but that doesn't seem to be the coronavirus strategy at the moment," Lutsar said.

"Whether the delta strain will be the last now, I don't dare to promise it. A lot of experts say that the virus has already exploited a lot of possible mutations and will start to repeat itself. British scientists said that another difficult winter is ahead and then it will get better. I hope so," Lutsar said.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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