News and Commentary

Sweden’s Chief Epidemiologist: Our Open Approach To Virus Seems To Be Working
Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Public Health Agency of Sweden attends a press conference to update on the COVID-19 coronavirus situation on April 2, 2020 in Stockholm, Sweden.
Photo by Janerik Henriksson/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

The chief epidemiologist and top strategist for the Swedish government dealing with the coronavirus crisis, who championed the effort in Sweden to avoid a nationwide lockdown to deal with the issue, noted the slowing growth of new coronavirus cases in his country, saying that the numbers of people who had contracted the virus had slowed the growth of spreading the disease.

Anders Tegnell stated, “According to our modelers, we are starting to see so many immune people in the population in Stockholm that it is starting to have an effect on the spread of the infection. Our models point to some time in May.” Acknowledging the roughly 1,500 people who have died in his country as well as the 14,385 people in Sweden who have tested positive for coronavirus, Tegnell said the situation “is not a failure for the overall strategy. It is a failure to protect our elderly who live in care homes,” as the New York Daily News reported.

Tegnell told the Swedish news agency TT, “We’re on a sort of plateau.” He also stated, “We’re still at the level we were at a couple of weeks ago. There was some kind of peak before the Easter weekend, and now there’s some kind of downturn,” according to The Telegraph.

On Friday, Karin Tegmark Wisell, head of the microbiology department at Sweden’s Public Health Authority, said, “The trend we have seen in recent days, with a more flat curve — where we have many new cases, but not a daily increase — is stabilizing. We are seeing the same pattern for patients in intensive care.”

HSBC Global Research economist James Pomeroy added, “While Sweden’s unwillingness to lock down the country could ultimately prove to be ill-judged, for now, if the infection curve flattens out soon, the economy could be better placed to rebound.”

Bloomberg News reported that there were other factors that may have contributed to Sweden’s seeming success in dealing with the coronavirus issue: “ … the Swedish approach has drawn considerable interest around the world. Part of that approach relies on having access to one of the world’s best-functioning health-care systems. At no stage did Sweden see a real shortage of medical equipment or hospital capacity, and tents set up as emergency care facilities around the country have mostly remained empty.”

The Daily Wire reported in March:

“Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, in a televised speech on Sunday, urged people to ‘take responsibility’ and follow the government’s recommendations,” AFP reports in its look at Sweden’s “softer line” in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Those include working from home if you can, staying home if you feel sick, practice social distancing, and stay home if you belong to a risk group or are over the age of 70.”

Like other European countries, Sweden has banned gatherings, but only gatherings of 500 or more — as opposed to the more drastic directives, like in Germany, which is now banning “gatherings” of more than just two. Sweden’s government is also advising that universities and secondary schools shift to fully online classes, but is so far keeping primary schools open.



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