Center deputy whip critical of prime minister's vaccine damages fund stance

Andrei Korobeinik.
Andrei Korobeinik. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Deputy chair of the Center Party group of MPs Andrei Korobeinik sharply criticized PM Kaja Kallas (Reform) over her position concerning the creation of a coronavirus vaccination damages fund. Korobeinik found that Estonia's low vaccination rate is a worse problem than the prime minister's record low rating.

"Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said in a Friday address that she is not in favor of creating a vaccine damages fund as it would send the people the wrong signal. According to the PM, people would conclude that vaccines cause damage and that they shouldn't get the shot. The PM explained her position through recommendations by anonymous behavioral scientists," Korobeinik said in a Center Party press release.

"In reality, while people's intellectual capacity indeed differs, it does not pay to consider everyone an idiot by default, whether you are the PM or a behavioral scientist. The vaccines are medicinal products and the latter have side-effects, which is something everyone knows even if Estonia lacks a vaccine damages fund," Korobeinik said.

Korobeinik added that Covid vaccines should not be compared to other medicinal products. "While paracetamol can have worse side-effects than coronavirus vaccines, people need a vaccination certificate, not a paracetamol certificate to go to the restaurant and be able to do certain kind of work. Therefore, if the state lays down restrictions, it needs to be prepared to take responsibility for side-effects as people can otherwise lose faith in it and its measures," Korobeinik said.

Korobeinik added that a crisis of trust between the state and its citizens has already been created, with the question now of its extent and longevity.

"The prime minister's record negative rating is not a great concern when compared to Estonia's rate of vaccination. We are falling behind most other EU countries, mainly because of antagonism in society. Our recent decisions have made anti-vaxxers of people who were rather positively inclined six months ago," the Center politician said.

"Even Latvia has overtaken us in terms of vaccinations and started work on vaccine damages fund last week. They failed in the first days of the crisis, while they have managed to draw the right conclusions and are escaping the worst of it now. We can only avoid a medial system crisis in Estonia if we manage to boost the vaccination rate of elderly people. Recent statements by the prime minister have rendered it virtually impossible," Korobeinik said.

He noted that Center has proposed two solutions that would have saved lives and spared the Estonian economy.

"Firstly, a bonus of €100 for every vaccinated pensioner (a one-off expense of €30 million). Secondly, a vaccination damages fund (annual cost under €500,000). Neither option was deemed acceptable. However, if at first you don't succeed... Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) will propose the creation of the fund again next week, and I very much hope we can move forward at full speed from there," the MP added.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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