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Tuesday's papers: Tougher restrictions, dark web vaccines, forest inventory

Expert views on tougher restrictions, dark web vaccine sales and Finland's forest inventory celebrates 100th birthday.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat found vaccines purporting to have been produced by Pfizer on the dark web. Image: Andrey Popov

One of the top-read stories on Finland's largest daily Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Tuesday is experts' views on whether and when tougher coronavirus restrictions should be brought in.

Most of the infections are in the Helsinki University Hospital District (HUS) area, with around 3,000 new cases confirmed each week. According to Markus Mäkijärvi, Chief Medical Officer of HUS, at the current level, the number of patients is increasing and causing an increasing workload in healthcare.

"I would say the threshold [of what the healthcare system can cope with] is 3,000 to 4,000 infections a week in the HUS area. More than 4,000 infections a week is a figure that will start to have serious consequences on our healthcare system. The current 3,000 infections per week mean a lot of work and sweat, and some patients are already receiving inferior treatment," says Mäkijärvi.

HUS officials predict infections will continue the same, or will increase slightly, in the next few weeks.

"If the infections have started to decrease, we will see it in around a weeks' time on the hospital wards, and in a few weeks in the ICU," HUS development director Visa Honkanen told HS.

Tampere University's professor of epidemiology Pekka Nuorti estimates that current restrictions are not enough, as the British variant of the virus is so infectious.

According to the professor, people in Finland have grown used to the large number of cases.

"We currently have infection rates significantly higher than before Christmas. The situation is serious, there is no doubt about it."

The government is expected to make an announcement later on Tuesday on whether new restrictions will be brought in.

Vaccines on the dark web

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat conducted an investigation (siirryt toiseen palveluun) into the sale of coronavirus vaccines on the dark web. As well as unnamed vaccines, a number of vaccines purporting to be made by Pfizer were spotted on the sites.

The price of a multi-dose bottle containing around ten doses of what was supposedly the Pfizer vaccine, was selling for 40 USD (36 euros). The vials containing an unnamed substance were selling for 210 USD and 700 USD (176 euros and 587 euros respectively).

The Sputnik vaccine was not found even on Russia's largest dark web marketplace.

In addition, counterfeit vaccination certificates were also on sale. Ilta-Sanomat found a number of vaccination certificates, allegedly officially issued by Russian authorities. The price for these ranged from 40 to 56 euros.

For the fake certificates, buyers are asked to send in their personal information, after which the buyer is sent a fake vaccination certificate in their own name. The sellers are likely to be part of large criminal organisations, the tabloid reported.

According to Sami Paaskoski, Chief Pharmacist at Finland's pharmaceutical regulator Fimea, they are aware of the phenomenon and Fimea is monitoring the situation.

Forest inventory

Farmers' union newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Finland's National Forest Inventory, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

The inventory's aim is to monitor and provide information on regional and national forest resources, land use and forest health status and diversity, among other things.

The data produced has proved so valuable that the inventory is repeated every ten years or so.

"The national forest inventory is more necessary now than ever before," said Kari T. Korhonen, a leading researcher at the Natural Resources Institute (Luke), and who has led the national forest inventory since 2004.

Finland is under pressure to produce new types of information due to its importance even at an international level. Finland is committed to producing national forest data for statistics collected by the UN and its climate agreement.