Health Care

Top epidemiologist admits he got Sweden's COVID-19 strategy wrong

Top epidemiologist admits he got Sweden's COVID-19 strategy wrong”

Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, said that in hindsight Sweden should have done more.

Speaking to Sveriges Radio today (3 June), Mr Tegnell said: "Should we encounter the same disease, with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land in doing midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did".

"I'm not walking around thinking that we have a real disaster here in Sweden", Jan Arpi, a 58-year-old sales executive said.

Earlier this week, Sweden's death rate per capita emerged as the highest in the world, according to The Guardian.

What's more, there's so far limited evidence that Sweden's decision to leave much of its society open will support the economy.

Sweden closed care homes to visitors in late March, but around half its coronavirus-related deaths have been among elderly people living in care facilities.

Tegnell said it was hard to know which measures taken elsewhere might have been the most effective in Sweden.

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The pandemic has killed more than 380,600 people worldwide, with total infections reaching almost 6.4 million, while more than 2.74 million have recovered from the disease, according to figures compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.

As other countries had imposed immediate lockdowns, it was unknown which measures had the best effect in halting the spread, he explained.

Anders Tegnell said he would change his approach to lockdown if a future, similar pandemic hit Sweden.

However, despite the admission that things could have been done differently, the scientist said it is hard to know which specific measures within the policy of lockdown have been responsible for fewer deaths.

Sweden's infection rate of 43.24 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants is lower than Spain's (58.06), and Italy's (55.39), but is higher than the reported rates in the United States (32.14) and Brazil (14.29), according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum have also joined the chorus of disapproval and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced on Monday that the country will launch an inquiry into its handling of the pandemic before the end of the summer. Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson recently warned that Sweden is facing its worst economic crisis since World War II, with GDP set to slump 7% in 2020, roughly as much as the rest of the EU.

Last week, neighbouring Norway and Denmark said they were dropping mutual border controls but would keep Sweden out of a Nordic "travel bubble".



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