THL: Covid vaccine may have saved 10,000 lives in Finland this year

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A top official at the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare says the Covid-19 pandemic has moved into an endemic phase, meaning it remains constant at a baseline level.

Mika Salminen, director of health security at the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), has been a key figure in managing the pandemic since early 2020. Image: Tommi Pylkkö / Yle

Up to 10,000 lives have been saved in Finland this year thanks to coronavirus vaccinations, according to Mika SalminenDirector of Health Security at the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL).

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At a press conference on Wednesday, Salminen said the Covid-19 pandemic has moved into an endemic phase, meaning it remains constant at a grassroots level within the population.

According to Salminen, the situation in Finland is different from the rest of Europe.

“There has been a clear summer epidemic in Europe, which is now abating,” he told reporters in Helsinki.

The number of infections has increased somewhat in recent weeks, he explains. Most of the rising numbers of cases are outside the densely populated capital region.

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“About every six months, a new virus variant has appeared, replacing the old variant quite quickly,” Salminen noted, adding that he expects the trend to continue.

“The BA.5-omicron variant has become the mainstream virus at the moment,” says Salminen.

“The need for hospital care has increased somewhat recently, but the number of intensive care patients has not increased,” he said. “That’s good news: patients don’t seem as sick as they used to be. The downward trend has continued since the peak last April.

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“By a rough estimate, vaccinations may have saved up to 10,000 lives this year,” Salminen says.

THL has studied more than 4,400 death certificates in which coronavirus infection was recorded as a cause of death or contributing factor to death. In more than 2,800 cases, coronavirus infections were named as the leading cause of death.

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