Finland regions

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

A senior official at the Finnish Institute for 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 for Health and Welfare (THL), has been a key figure in handling 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 for Health and Welfare (THL).

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, Salminen said the Covid-19 pandemic has moved into an endemic phase, meaning it remains constant at a baseline level among the population.

According to Salminen, the situation in Finland differs from that in the rest of Europe.

“There was a clear summer epidemic peak in Europe, which is now in decline,” he told reporters in Helsinki.

There has been some increase in the number of infections in recent weeks, he explained. Most of the rising numbers of cases are outside the heavily populated capital region.

“About every six months a new variant of the virus emerges which replaces 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 right now,” Salminen said.

“There has recently been some increase in hospital care needs, but no increase in the number of intensive care patients,” he said. “This is good news: at the moment, patients do not seem to be as sick as before. The downward trends have continued since the peak last April.

“According to a rough estimate, up to 10,000 lives could have been saved this year alone thanks to vaccinations,” Salminen said.

THL has studied more than 4,400 death certificates in which coronavirus infection is recorded as the cause of death or as a contributing factor to death. Coronavirus infections have been listed as the leading cause of death in more than 2,800 cases.