Sweden now not stands out within the pandemic, in response to the nation’s chief epidemiologist who championed its distinctive method within the early part of the disaster, because the Scandinavian nation prepares for an increase in new instances and hospitalisations.
Anders Tegnell informed the Monetary Instances that the sharp rise in instances in neighbouring international locations reminiscent of Denmark and Germany, significantly among the many unvaccinated, was “positively worrying and we actually take that very significantly”.
However the architect of the coverage to don’t have any formal lockdown confused that Sweden had one of many decrease extra mortality ranges in Europe, whereas on different pandemic measures it was nearer to common.
“Now, we’re two years into this and Sweden doesn’t actually stand out. We’re not the very best, however we’re positively not the worst. That’s what I hear now: how a lot good did all these draconian [measures] do for anyone?”
Tegnell’s technique within the early stage of the disaster is dealing with growing criticism in Sweden. The official fee investigating the nation’s response has criticised the slow reaction at first of 2020 and famous that Sweden let the virus unfold sooner than different Nordic international locations. However the fee won’t pronounce on the knowledge of the no formal lockdown technique till subsequent 12 months.
Mattias Karlsson, former chief of the populist Sweden Democrats, informed the FT that Tegnell had been “fully fallacious” on a number of points and that the judgment on him could be “very harsh”. He added: “Particularly within the early part of the pandemic there have been lots of issues we may have executed that will have made a distinction.”
However Tegnell himself is unapologetic. He confused that “Sweden did shut down enormously” regardless of the shortage of a proper lockdown. It had empty streets for a lot of 2020 and nearly no instances of flu and different respiratory illnesses as folks labored from house and prevented journey and social contact, he mentioned.
Whereas his employer, Sweden’s public well being company, and others have been nonetheless evaluating the fee’s experiences, he mentioned there was nonetheless little settlement on what labored in opposition to Covid-19 aside from vaccinations.
“What they’re not speaking about is what sorts of issues did make a distinction. That’s what we’re nonetheless struggling to grasp. Some measures work generally in some locations, nevertheless it’s very tough to see a transparent sample,” he added.
Sweden’s present an infection price is decrease than a lot of central and japanese Europe, however larger than France, Spain and Italy. Tegnell mentioned Sweden tended to have a resurgence in instances later than others and that he strongly believed the current enhance would proceed within the coming months.
He confused that the authorities wanted to look rigorously at the place the unfold of the virus was occurring quickest this winter and usher in centered measures accordingly.
“Do we have to shut eating places? Do we have to shut theatres? Do we have to inform folks to work a bit extra from house once more? As a result of these blanket closing downs of the whole lot, I don’t assume there’s going to be a lot of an acceptance of that any longer,” he mentioned.
Sweden’s authorities took a extra lively function within the pandemic in the course of the second Covid-19 wave in December and January, imposing new restrictions that moved the nation nearer to the remainder of Europe, simply as a lot of the EU adopted Stockholm in declining to shut faculties in more moderen outbreaks.
And whereas Sweden has fared higher than many European international locations in the course of the pandemic, it has executed worse than all of its Nordic neighbours. Tegnell claimed that Sweden stood out extra from the likes of Norway and Finland as a result of it had extra migrants from outdoors the EU and extra poorer folks.
“Swedish society may be very totally different from the society in Norway and Finland, which we are inclined to disregard as a result of we share an extended historical past collectively and have comparable languages. Covid doesn’t care about historical past or language, it cares about socio-economic standing or migrant backgrounds or crowded housing. That’s the place Sweden stands out in a Nordic context, however not a lot in a EU context,” he mentioned.