Scientific Council to continue next year under Ministry of Social Affairs

Toivo Maimets.
Toivo Maimets. Source: ERR

The current contract of the Estonian Government's coronavirus advisory council, known as the Scientific Council (Teadusnõukoda), is due to expire at the end of this year. From 2023, the council will continue its work under the Ministry of Social Affairs.

At the beginning of December, there were 180 patients were hospitalized with the coronavirus, with the number now up to around 250. The overall number of people infected with the virus has also increased. Head of the government's coronavirus advisory council, known as the Scientific Council (Teadusnõukoda), Professor Toivo Maimets, said that he had expected the situation to be better than it currently is.

"We were hoping it would stabilize at around 140-150 (people), which in itself is quite high. Would have liked it to be 46 like it was in June. But the fact that it's 248 today shows that numbers are very clearly on the rise," Maimets said.

According to Maimets, the Scientific Council has been monitoring the state of the virus throughout the fall, including which new sub-strains are spreading in Estonia. "We are also learning from the experience of other countries and the scientific literature on what these new strains are doing, in addition to spreading more actively than the previous ones. What antibodies they are overwhelming and what the consequences are, for instance," he added.

Maimets said, that the Scientific Council was also examining so-called "long Covid." "It has a whole range of different symptoms, which, in many people appear a few months after a bout of Covid, even somewhat independently of how severe their individual case was. It puts extra strain on the medical system, and extra strain on people," he explained.

The Scientific Council's current contract with the government runs out at the end of this year. It has been proposed that thecouncil will continue its work under the Ministry of Social Affairs, as this is the ministry responsible for the management of any of the country's potential future health crises.

"Of course, we have given our agreement in principle (to this)  because there are a number of areas or specialties where we clearly have expertise - virology, immunology, infectious diseases, communication, and other things," said Maimets.

"And the kind of multidisciplinary team that we have put together is really very valuable and can be used to do a lot of useful things. Obviously we are thinking far beyond just this one particular virus, which we still haven't quite got rid of yet today," Maimets said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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