“But I would’ve liked to see mask use continue at least until May.”
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) essentially scrapped its broad-based mask recommendation in mid-April. The decision was abrupt and surprising, according to Lindén.
“That put pretty much an immediate stop to mask use,” he stated to the newspaper.
Lindén has seen the incidence of coronavirus-related deaths peak since taking on his ministerial duties in February. Although the pandemic has since begun to wane and the deaths have primarily occurred among elderly in recent months, he said he has “seriously considered what could have been done differently”.
He returned from a summit of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
“It was mandatory to wear masks in the meeting. And it was mandatory to wear masks on the Lufthansa flight. Why don’t we have a mask mandate in the Parliament, for example? People were eager to abandon face masks terribly quickly,” told Lindén.
Face masks, he acknowledged, are naturally not a means to prevent the virus from spreading to older age groups, especially when it comes to the ordinary, less effective surgical masks.
“Using masks indoors is ultimately not that big of a nuisance. I realise it’s partly a cost issue. If we had used the more expensive FFP2 masks, which are very effective, it would’ve cost quite a bit to some people.”
Lindén stated that vaccinations are the primary tool for preparing for future infection waves. While he stressed that decisions on the fourth round of vaccinations will be made by experts and authorities, he also indicated his willingness to lower the age limit.
“I think we’ve now given [the fourth jabs] to over 80-year-olds. I think the age limit could’ve been 70 years.”
He also offered his estimate of when the fourth round will be expanded to cover younger age groups.
“Based on the information I’ve received, the fourth round of vaccinations should be carried out no later than early next autumn. Then we’ll probably get the new, more effective vaccines,” he told Helsingin Sanomat.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT