Covid survey: Infection down, antibodies up
Recent results of the University of Tartu coronavirus prevalence survey suggest that Estonia is experiencing a coronavirus breather. The best way to prepare for the fourth wave of the virus is getting a booster shot, Ruth Kalda, study coordinator and professor of family medicine at the University of Tartu, said.
The latest results show that illness is down and the number of people with coronavirus antibodies has grown.
"We are experiencing a breather," Kalda said.
Every 175th adult (0.6 percent) is infectious, down by a third since October.
Hiiu, Võru and Jõgeva counties are better off, while southern Estonia has a little more of the virus than other parts of the country. There were no other regional peculiarities, Kalda said.
Around 82 percent of adults have antibodies, up 5 percent from October. No fewer than 88-90 percent of elderly people have Covid antibodies, obtained either through vaccination, recovery or booster doses.
Because the fourth wave of Covid has already hit Europe, Estonia is very unlikely to be unaffected, especially when it comes to the new Omicron variant that spreads more aggressively than the Delta strain, Kalda said. She urged people to get vaccine booster shots to be prepared for the next wave of infection.
"Getting a booster dose can lower the likelihood of being infected tenfold," Kalda said based on survey results.
Over 200,000 people have been administered booster shots in Estonia, which Kalda described as a solid result, adding that there are nevertheless plenty of those who can get their booster shot but haven't. Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Affairs Heidi Alasepp told ERR on Tuesday that the number of people who could have gotten a booster dose but haven't is 120,000.
"Of course, the figure could be bigger. People who have gone six months since their Pfizer of Moderna shot and five months since their Janssen or AstraZeneca jab could, considering the likely arrival of the Omicron strain, take that step sooner," Kalda said. "Laboratory testing has shown that vaccines offer a similar level of protection against Omicron compared to Delta. They are perhaps a tiny bit less effective, but the third dose definitely works well."
Recent results also suggest people have become more cautious, especially those who have not been vaccinated.
"There are quite a few people who fail to take precautions, while prudence and behavior have improved," Kalda emphasized.
Support for the vaccination of children has grown, while it is greater among people who have no children under 18. Families with children tend to be less keen on vaccination, Kalda pointed out.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski