From the President’s Pen: Coronavirus, the economy and health protection

Nobel Laureate, Professor Bengt Holmström and Dr Martti Hetemäki, and now, most recently, Professor Martin Scheinin have woken us up with regard to the fight against coronavirus. What they have in common, at least, is that proactive preparedness is of key importance; the need for strict, short-term restrictive measures before dangerous limits are exceeded.

It is interesting that, in terms of the economy and individual freedoms, similar thinking has now been presented from different parties. It sounds like a short course of self-discipline is better than giving the disease an opportunity to come here and further undermine the economy or health. Scheinin describes the situation more dramatically (Constitution Blog): Right now, Finland has a margin of a thousand lives to stop, suffocate and eliminate the epidemic.

Naturally, the question arises as to why additional restrictions are being proposed just as vaccinations have started and help is therefore on its way. It is worth highlighting a couple of factors, however, in the race between the spread of the disease and its prevention.

The news in Europe is alarming. Infection rates have started to rise again from the lower levels of late autumn. The new mutations are a case in themselves; the Mayor of London’s gloomy assessments and the rapid spread of the mutation in Ireland show that the danger is growing.

With regard to vaccinations, the reported information and timetables, insofar as they exist, suggest slower-than-expected progress. Overall, it is difficult to form a clear view on vaccine deliveries. Questions have also been raised about how various Member States’ own procurement of vaccines accord with the solidarity-based joint procurement agreed in the EU. In the race against the virus, we cannot be complacent in terms of vaccines.

In Finland, the infection rates suggest that the worst threats were avoided during the Christmas and New Year period. Caution and strict adherence to instructions and regulations remain the best and essential protection for both ourselves and our loved ones. We live in exceptional circumstances.