New scientific council chief likely to provide line-up on Thursday

Toivo Maimets.
Toivo Maimets. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government's scientific advisory council's new chief Toivo Maimets is likely to provide the government with a line-up on Thursday, the government's press office told ERR on Tuesday.

Maimets took part in a government cabinet sitting on Tuesday, but did not announce a line-up while introducing himself as the new chief of the scientific council. Maimets is set to meet with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) before Thursday to speak about the council's new roster.

University of Tartu family medicine professor Ruth Kalda is a potential new scientific council member after telling news portal Delfi (link in Estonian): "It is not officially confirmed yet. We have talked about it."

University of Tartu (UT) cell biology professor Toivo Maimets will take over as chief of the scientific council from virologist Irja Lutsar, who held the position ever since the council was created at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

Maimets told ERR after the announcement was made around Christmas that he wanted to combine policy-making and science for decades and he said the prime minister Kaja Kallas agrees with him. He added that the council should focus more on advising the government and less on communicating with the press.

Kaja Kallas announced on December 23 that the scientific council has done a good job working the pandemic's frontline, but they deserve a vacation, which will allow them to focus on their regular research. The outgoing council members rejected claims of fatigue and said their role was never intended primarily for media liaison.

Lutsar said: "Our task was to keep informed on what was happening regarding the coronavirus, as well as to keep abreast of the latest research, and to give the government relevant advice."

Auditor General Janar Holm has also criticized the practice of the scientific council's recommendations appearing in the media before reaching the government.

The council collects and analyzes data and gives recommendations on restrictions and other viral spread measures.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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