This page gathers COVID-19 disease data initiatives, dashboards, and datasets that were developed and published during 2020-2024 in Estonia. It also provides information on health authorities and local regulations for data handling and disease control. The primary target audience is the wider scientific community.
In Estonia, infectious disease data is mainly collected by The Estonian Health Board and made publicly available as open data. The Health Board also provides guidelines:
- for the health authorities (all guidelines in Estonian)
- and the general public
Since 2021, the Health Board has provided weekly epidemic reviews on SARS-CoV-2 and flu situations that capture the infection rates, prevalent strains, hospitalisation, and death statistics.
The Health Board provides further information regarding infectious diseases on its home page, such as safety guidelines and recommendations or interactive dashboard for the infectious disease history in Estonia but the majority of the information is available only in Estonian.
Disease surveillance initiatives
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for additional surveillance data became pressing. With scientists being able to ensure rapid development and implementation of new methodologies, the following initiatives were implemented in cooperation with the University of Tartu:
- Wastewater surveillance was set up in August 2020 by the researchers of the University of Tartu (Tanel Tenson and Veljo Kisand) and taken over by the Health Board in 2022. Based on data from Estonia, it was observed that the viral load in wastewater increased before a rise in the number of infected people was observed. Furthermore, in certain places such as dormitories and prisons, the viral load increase was used to predict outbreaks. In conclusion, wastewater studies had an additional value when infection rates were on the rise or decline, but not during a plateau.
- Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies. The determination of antibodies allowed for a retrospective assessment of the outbreak’s extent and is an important tool for assessing the extent of population immunity. In Estonia, two seroepidemiological studies were conducted in the spring and late summer of 2020 (Koro-Sero-EST 1 end 2). Moving forward, the determination of antibodies was incorporated into the prevalence study.
- Prevalence study. The primary objectives of active surveillance were to evaluate the widespread presence of SARS-CoV-2 and the prevalence of antibodies. The first stage of the surveillance study took place from 22 to 29 April 2020. Adults from all over Estonia were invited to participate in the study based on a random sampling. In total, 33 stages were carried out, each involving 2000 - 2500 participants. The percentage of infected individuals fluctuated from less than 1% during the first wave to over 10% during the fourth wave. Active surveillance provided the most objective overview of the extent of virus presence in Estonia. The first stages of the prevalence study have been published by Uusküla et al 2022.
- SARS-CoV-2 sequencing was initiated at the University of Tartu in 2020. The KoroGenoEst projects 1-3, also described as a Showcase, led by the University of Tartu, continued their operations up until January 2023. Over three years, a total of 8,990 samples were analyzed. From 2023 onwards, the Health Board assumed responsibility for the sequencing analysis of SARS-CoV-2.
- HOIA was a COVID-tracking app launched in August 2020. The app tracked contacts by capturing Bluetooth signals from nearby phones. If the signal was close and frequent enough, anonymous codes were collected and stored on the phone. If a person with the HOIA app became infected, they could alert the app, and those who were considered to have been in close contact with that person were immediately notified. The app was used by 300,000 people but was decommissioned in May 2022.
Dashboards and visualisation platforms
- koroona.ut.ee: multiple dashboards using open data provided by the Health Board.
- Wastewater map: wastewater surveillance data has been updated weekly since August 2021.
- SARS-CoV-2 sequencing results from Health Board: since January 2023, the Health Board has taken over the coronavirus sequencing from the University of Tartu and developed the accompanying interactive dashboards.
- Health Board coronavirus dashboards: official dashboards of the Health Board. The page includes several visualizations using infection, infected individual profiles, hospital treatment, and vaccination data.
- Corona map: an interactive dashboard for SARS-CoV-2 testing and vaccination data. The last data update was 2 May 2023.
- Corona statistics at the Postimees news site: the major newspaper Postimees updated daily the SARS-CoV-2 statistics using the open data from the Health Board. The last data update was 1 May 2023.
- Public dashboard on SARS-CoV-2 sequencing results for 2021-2022: The last data update was 20 March 2023.
- Infectious analysis by Krista Fischer: using open data from the Health Board. Last updated 14 September 2022.
- Model predictions by Mario Kadastik: using model forecasts, predictive calculations were performed to find the hospitalisation, the intensive care unit and the death toll predictions. All the values are estimated, and if the actual reproduction number (R value) and the model forecast differ, it was expected that the forecast would also be different from reality. Last updated on 17 April 2023.
National data sources
From the onset of the pandemic in Estonia in March 2020, Estonia began openly sharing data related to SARS-CoV-2 testing. The first tests were conducted in February 2020, and as of January 2024, the test statistics are still regularly published on the dedicated open data page of the Health and Welfare Information Systems Centre of Estonia. The files must be downloaded for further use and should not be directly integrated into websites. The files contain data on:
- Covid-19 vaccination files (updated once per day):
- Nationwide data
- Coverage by age groups
- Coverage by county
- Coverage by age group and county
- Coverage by age group by municipality
- Coverage by age group by administrative unit
- Statistics about institutions which carry out vaccinations
- SARS-CoV-2 testing files (updated once per day):
- Nationwide positive cases
- Test results
- Average age of cases
- Location-based statistics
- County total statistics
- Covid-19 hospitalisations files (last data shared on 02.05.2023).
- Average age of patients
- Time of patient hospitalisation
- Age and gender profile of patients
- Timeline of hospitalisation statistics.
All the data above is shared both in JSON and CSV formats.
In Estonia, a research plan that involves human subjects needs to be approved by an ethics board. The two general ethics boards that researchers can apply to are Research Ethics Committee of the University of Tartu and Research Ethics Committee of the National Institute for Health Development.