Covid-19 vaccinations could start in Finland on 27 December, tells Kiuru

THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT is today expected to approve a decree enabling the commencement of vaccinations against the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Covid-19, reveals Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP).

“Once the decree has been approved, we’ll start waiting for our own batch of vaccines to arrive in Finland. We’ll then start the vaccinations on the 27th,” she stated to STT on Monday.

“We want the vaccines to be well researched and safe,” she added in the Parliament House in Helsinki.

Kiuru told that the first batch of vaccines is small, but it will be followed by steady stream of additional batches. Finnish authorities, she said, have made preparations to take delivery of the first batch late on Boxing Day – a task that is complicated by the ultra-low temperatures required during transport and storage.

“Distributing the vaccine is made more difficult by the fact that the cold-chain transport is very challenging,” she said.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday announced it has recommended granting a conditional marketing authorisation for the vaccine developed against Covid-19 by Pfizer and Biontech.

Its scientific opinion paves the way for the granting of the first market authorisation for a vaccine against the disease by the European Commission. The recommendation was issued after its human medicines committee concluded by consensus that sufficiently robust data on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine is now available.

“Today’s positive news is an important step forward in our fight against this pandemic, which has caused suffering and hardships for so many,” said Emer Cooke, the executive director of EMA.

Cooke reminded that although the agency has confidence in the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine, its work does not stop here. “We will continue to collect and analyse data on the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine to protect people taking the vaccine in the EU.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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Centre’s district organisation in Finnish Lapland calls for resignation of Kiuru

THE DISTRICT ORGANISATION of the Centre in Finnish Lapland has issued a statement calling for the resignation of Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP).

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the statement claims, has put the domestic travel industry between a rock and a hard place by insisting on restrictions so strict that local tourism operators are facing revenue losses of hundreds of millions of euros.

Another reason for the radical demand is Länsi-Pohja Central Hospital in Kemi, Western Lapland. The hospital continues to wait for a decision on the extension of its special permit for birthing operations, which is set to expire at the end of 2020.

“We think Kiuru’s actions in this regard are peculiar,” the district organisation said in the statement issued on Sunday.

Kiuru declined to comment on the demand when reached yesterday by Helsingin Sanomat. Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko, the chairperson of the Centre, tweeted that she does not subscribe to the demand made by the district organisation, estimating that the resignation would do little to facilitate an agreement on border issues.

“Lapland lives from tourism,” she acknowledged. “The coronavirus is limiting these business activities severely. The government has to do whatever it can. The border issues must be solved, with health the priority, while using common sense.”

Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre) viewed that the district organisation is venting its frustration with what remains an “extremely difficult situation” in Lapland.

“The way to take care of these kinds of things as a district organisation is not to start demanding that certain ministers step down. These problems must be solved collaboratively within the government,” he stressed.

Markus Lohi (Centre), a third-term Member of the Finnish Parliament from Rovaniemi, said the demand is a “very radical measure” but also a “big cry for help” for the tourism industry in Lapland.

“The situation here is very dramatic. I want to underline that the Centre as a whole is not demanding that anyone resign,” he commented to Helsingin Sanomat.

Members of the Finnish Parliament, including those from the district organisation, expressed their confidence in Kiuru in October, reminded Antti Lindtman, the chairperson of the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group. Kiuru and the government, he added, also deserve praise for the fact that the epidemiological situation in Finland is the best in the European Union.

“What’s going on inside the Centre? Has the Lapland district moved to the opposition?” he asked.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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Finnish government wanted to send mask message with single voice, explains Kiuru

MINISTER of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) has revealed that a desire to deliver “a unanimous message” influenced the face mask-related decisions made last spring at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

“Last spring, there was an emphasis on the importance of shared leadership and unanimous communication during the state of emergency,” she stated on YLE’s A-Studio on Tuesday.

“The problem right now is that we have too many voices when we’re communicating about these issues.”

Kiuru was yesterday asked to comment on the allegation that the ministry deemed it unnecessary to inform the public about the proper use of and most beneficial use environments for face coverings, thereby thwarting the plan of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

THL, she confirmed, was brought under the leadership of the ministry upon the invocation of the emergency powers act. She denied the claim that she had politically steered the expert organisation, assuring that the starting point for both her and the government was to have confidence in the information and epidemiological situation updates provided by experts in all circumstances.

The decision on face coverings was made based, on the one hand, on expert information and, on the other, the views of THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

“We’re talking about different everyday communication-related questions between the public relations specialists at THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health,” she told YLE.

Representatives of the National Coalition on Friday announced a motion of no-confidence against Kiuru, arguing that there is reason to suspect that the mask study conducted last spring was subject to political guidance in a bid to mislead Finns.

Members of the Parliament will vote on the motion today, on Wednesday.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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