Coronavirus prevalence is comparable to February, but two times fewer people need hospital care

Results of the most recent wave of the coronavirus prevalence study led by the University of Tartu indicate that about one per cent of the Estonian adult population is currently infected with coronavirus. At the same time, nearly 77% of adults have developed antibodies against coronavirus, either through vaccination or by recovering from the disease. Vaccinated people are almost three times less likely to get infected than those who have not been vaccinated or have not had the disease.

From 15 to 27 September, 2,378 randomly chosen adults were tested for coronavirus, and 19 tested positive. Fifteen of them were virus carriers and four had already recovered from the disease and were no longer infectious. The results show that every 110th adult (0.91%) is currently estimated to be a virus carrier in Estonia. The infected are mostly middle-aged and young adults. In most cases, the infected experience pronounced symptoms.

According to the leader of the study, Professor of Family Medicine of the University of Tartu Ruth Kalda, the profile of those who received a positive test result shows that vaccinated people are nearly three times less likely to get infected than those who have not been vaccinated or have not had the disease. In other words, every 145th vaccinated adult and every 50th unvaccinated adult may be a virus carrier.

Wide antibody prevalence has reduced the need for hospitalisation

In this study wave, the antibody analysis was performed for 2,302 adults, and 2,035 had anti-coronavirus antibodies. Therefore approximately 77% of adults can be estimated to have antibodies. According to Kalda, in terms of the number of the infected, the current situation is comparable to February, but thanks to the wider prevalence of antibodies, the number of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalisation is two times lower. "In February, with the same infection rates, more than 400 coronavirus patients needed hospital care. This Monday, 195 people were in the hospital with coronavirus. This confirms that vaccination is very effective especially in preventing severe cases," Kalda explained.

The prevalence of antibodies varies somewhat from region to region. According to Kalda, these figures are the best among adults in Hiiumaa and Saaremaa. "The prevalence of antibodies in southern Estonia and Pärnu County is modest, which is also reflected in the number of new cases," Kalda noted.

Reduced sense of danger

Participants in the prevalence study were also asked about their everyday behaviour. The results showed that although mask-wearing has become more widespread compared to the study wave conducted in August, there are generally fewer and fewer of those who take specific action to prevent infection. At the same time, exposure to the potentially infected has increased: while every 40th person had been in close contact with a potentially infected person in August, now it is every 20th person.

"The main precautions should still be followed, as vaccinated people can also contract and potentially transmit the virus. However, their risk of infection is three times lower than that of unvaccinated people, and they are also less likely to develop a severe form of the disease," explained a member of the research team, Associate Professor of Public Health of the University of Tartu Mikk Jürisson.

The study on the prevalence of coronavirus is carried out by a broad-based research group of the University of Tartu in cooperation with Synlab Eesti, Medicum and Kantar Emor.

For more information about the study, see the University of Tartu web page.

Further information: Ruth Kalda, Head of the Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health, Professor of Family Medicine, 5698 5599,