The results of a recently ended round of a COVID-19 prevalence study led by the University of Tartu (TÜ) show that the number of people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus has remained on the decline for the third month in a row.
From June 1-13, a total of 2,496 adults were tested for the COVID virus, 2.5 percent of whom tested positive. Two thirds of those infected had already had COVID and were no longer infectious; nearly one third were still contagious, according to a TÜ press release.
Survey lead Ruth Kalda, professor of family medicine at TÜ, estimates that one person in every 38 is currently infected with the COVID virus. This is down one third from May, and the number of infectious cases with clear symptoms has decreased as well.
2,439 adults provided blood samples to determine the presence and amount of COVID-19 antibodies; 87 percent of those tested had antibodies present in their blood.
According to Kalda, the percentage of adults with COVID antibodies has remained stable since March.
"Given the slow uptake of new vaccinations, this result is quite expected," she said.
This study also confirmed that antibodies persist longer in vaccinated people than in those who have had the disease: nearly all of those vaccinated had antibodies present, compared with three quarters of those who had had COVID. According to researchers, those who have both had COVID and also been vaccinated are best protected against new infections.
Booster doses shouldn't wait
Although it is summer, outbreaks of a new variant of the Omicron strain of COVID are already being reported in Europe, and it is likely that Estonia will not remain unaffected, Kalda said.
This is why TÜ Professor of Public Health Mikk Jürisson, chief executive of the study, considers it vital that people in risk groups get booster doses of the vaccine before fall already.
The results of the behavioral study conducted in the course of the prevalence survey indicated that willingness to get a booster dose varies considerably by age group. Overall, one in three adults without a booster dose expressed willingness to get one, while 40 percent of older people confirmed plans to do so.
The COVID-19 prevalence study is carried out by a broad-based research group at TÜ in cooperation with Synlab, Medicum and pollster Kantar Emor, and is the only study in Estonia to provide an overview of the actual prevalence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the adult population.
The study is funded by the European Regional Development Fund from the EU measure to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next round of the study is planned for August.
Editor: Aili Vahtla