Former Minister of Health and Labor Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) spoke out against confusing communication and organization regarding the coronavirus vaccination process when appearing alongside current Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) on ETV current affairs show 'Esimene stuudio' Thursday night.
Ossinovski says the state hasn't reached its goal of vaccinating vulnerable groups. "We have 26,000 unvaccinated people among the 80+ age group. We have a lot of elderly people still unvaccinated, which means hundreds of deaths over the next few months," he said.
Last week, opposition parties sent a letter to Prime Minister
Kaja Kallas (Reform) demanding the recall of Tanel Kiik from his position. Ossinovski offered that the Center Party could replace Kiik with the head of the West Tallinn Central Hospital (LTKH) Arkadi Popov, who had just joined the party and is running in Tallinn in this month's local election.
Ossinovski said that insufficient preparations have been made ahead of the third coronavirus wave.
"We need a gear change, we need a new leadership system, a new window of trust in order to come out with a new plan," he said.
Tanel Kiik told Ossinovski that in the current state, changing the minister wouldn't bring along a gear change, but a lot of confusion instead. "In the current state of crisis, it is not the most reasonable step to take. A lot of European countries have changed ministers during the health care crisis, in some countries, the previous minister has come back because the two other ministers couldn't change anything," Kiik said.
"A lot of actions that have been done, they have been right, they have to be continued with. Of course, the occupation level hasn't been as high as we wished for," Kiik said.
Ossinovski said that calling people to vaccinate isn't enough anymore. These errors are somewhere else. The state hasn't kept an unequivocal and strong communication," Ossinovski said.
"The thing is that people have objective fears and dangers regarding getting vaccinated. The state needs to ensure we overcome these. Of course, it's not possible to do it with everybody, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the fact that of the 80+ age group, only 67 percent of the people are vaccinated," Ossinovski continued.
"It is inconceivable that Võru County's elderly are fundamentally more opposed to vaccination than people are in Viljandi or on Saaremaa. They definitely aren't. The question is organizational, the question is whether they sent the right messages at the right time. And obviously, it hasn't happened everywhere," he added.
Ossinovski said that responsibility must be taken for these wrong decisions. "But what's even more important is to learn from it and be able to mobilize our resources in the best way possible and start doing this job with a new quality from tomorrow," Ossinovski said.
Show host Mirko Ojakivi asked whether the prediction of 700 patients needing hospital treatment in a couple of months is viable.
"It's not. When we had 700 people in the hospitals with coronavirus, only 200,000 people were vaccinated. Today that number is around 800,000," Kiik said.
"We won't reach 700, but I agree that even 300 or 400 is too much," he said.
"We're actually at the end of the pandemic. We can see in Northern countries that the high level of vaccination can limit the spread of the virus," Kiik said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino