Meeting focused on ways of addressing current staff shortages and work-overload in hospital settings. Ilze Viņķele confirmed that all workers engaged in treating COVID-19 patients have received 100 % bonus on top of their normal salary.
Voluntary vaccination programme enabling Latvia to efficiently and quickly immunise the population against the novel Coronavirus was the main topic of the conversation. Minister Viņķele presented the latest information about ordering of necessary vaccine doses, their characteristics and availability to Latvia.
According to President Levits, ‘vaccination must be quick and efficient. This spring we were among those European countries that coped rather well with the pandemic. But we missed the right moment for limiting person-to-person contact this autumn and fell back. And now we must make sure we have the fastest immunisation rate in Europe – recovery of our society and economy depends on it’.
President asked for additional details on indicative vaccination timeline and Minister Viņķele replied by saying that in normal circumstances Latvia would be able to vaccinate 200,000 people in 6 weeks, while current emergency-mode rates are reaching 50,000 vaccinations a week, a rate which can be sustained under the current vaccine supply plan. The main unknown is the precise delivery dates for the products offered by different manufacturers, but manufacturers are promising more clarity soon.
President of Latvia underlined that we should not stop at minimum vaccination capacity and focus on reaching maximum coverage in future to give everyone a possibility to acquire immunity against COVID-19 as soon as possible. That is what vaccination programme should be geared towards. Infrastructure, coordination and delivery of vaccines must be aligned with this overarching objective.
Ilze Viņķele explained how vaccination infrastructure will work. It will engage hospitals and private sector providers and general practitioners. Health Minister informed the president about the upcoming cabinet meeting which will focus on details behind the programme built on expert advice for efficient virus containment strategies.
Egils Levits urged minister to make public statement following the cabinet meeting to give general public a better understanding of what the vaccination programme intends to achieve. According to President, everyone should clearly understand how quickly in terms of days these delivered doses of vaccine will reach people.
Dace Zavadska told President Levits that after initial doubts about vaccine people are growing more supportive of it and interest about immunisation is quickly peaking. Moreover, we must still wait for the European Medicines Agency authorisation on several vaccines coming from different manufacturers.