Advisor to the Justice Chancellor and expert in communicable diseases Martin Kadai says that he supports ending mass PCR testing on the grounds that it is not necessary for treating patients, and as a result isn't a cost-effective tool.
"When we look at the arrangement of testing and need in general, then the need for testing is determined by whether the result will give anything to the doctor, a basis to decide about the treatment. In the case of the coronavirus, there is no specific treatment. The lab result also doesn't give anything to the doctor," Kadai said on Vikerradio's morning program on Wednesday.
Kadai said that regarding the PCR tests, the health care economics view is also important. "Is this kind of testing a sustainable and cost-effective tool to fight the virus? It seems that it no longer isn't."
Kadai said that with the Omicron strain, we have reached a breaking point where actions taken so far need to be reviewed because the current system isn't sustainable.
At the same time, Kadai stressed that the new decisions need to be coordinated because as of today the public's chances to attend events where the test results are checked are dependent on the result and diagnosis of same, he said.
"The matter should have been on the table earlier, but during the two years, people's understanding of the necessity of the tests is so set that people just want to get their tests," Kadai commented.
Coronavirus can transform from pandemic to endemic
Kadai also talked about the fact that the workload phase of the coronavirus is decreasing and the chances for a severe disease form are also decreasing and there are two reasons for that.
The first reason is that by now, immunity background has been formed in society: most people in Estonia have already recovered from the virus, are vaccinated or vaccinated and recovered, Kadai said.
"Another factor is that the virus variant is milder than the Delta strain was. These are the main reasons why we're seeing this picture where the infection is explosive, but the consequences bearable," Kadai said.
To the question of whether it could be the end of the pandemic, Kadai answered that it's not certain, but he supports the prediction.
"It could happen, but neither modern science can predict nor estimate it. However, the prevailing hypothesis is that this virus will become a seasonal virus like any other coronavirus, seasonally transmitted. And what was initially a pandemic will turn into an endemic. It will eventually become endemic, i.e. spread locally and we will continue to have a seasonal occurrence. I rather support this scientific hypothesis," he said.
Kadai commented that we are moving towards a balance where the virus and people will coexist, but the coronavirus must change to survive.
"The variants of the coronavirus that are still spreading and have spread systemically and seasonally - they are relatively unbalanced. They cause inconvenient viral infections, but they do not cause a catastrophic burden," Kadai said. "In order for the virus to continue to spread, given that people have developed an immune system, the virus must change. And the virus has the potential to change very well," he stressed.
"We have to take into account the likelihood that this viral infection will last for a long time, causing a significant burden of disease along with other similar viral infections such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) - there are many," Kadai added.
He said that there are "dozens and dozens" of viruses that infect people, but their symptoms are relatively difficult to distinguish and there is no specific treatment for most of these viral infections, there is no specific cure.
"There is no specific treatment, so laboratory identification and differentiation in each individual case is not necessary for therapeutic, clinical purposes," Kadai said.
However, in case of suspicion of any viral diseases, it is worth not going to work avoiding crowded places. "We don't necessarily need to know exactly what viral infection we have, but the rule is that if a person is sick, it is wise to take care of ourselves and others," Kadai went on.
When asked about the possible introduction of anti-coronavirus drugs on the market, Kadai answered that he also knows that they are expected to be on the market in the near future.
"As much as I've read scientific literature and drug developments, indeed, these drugs are coming. But what will be their clinical use and scope exactly, the price - it all depends on their availability. But today there is this knowledge that some specific anti-coronavirus drugs are coming and at least for severe forms of the disease, relief could be provided," Kadai said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino