Is Sweden’s Approach in Fight with COVID-19 working?
Chief epidemiologist of Sweden, Anders Tegnell, believes that the actions of his country, which did not impose strict quarantine and coercive measures for self-isolation in the framework of the fight against COVID-19, are correct. According to him, a second wave of infection is possible in the fall, but the Swedes will already have a higher level of immunity compared with residents of those countries that have taken the Chinese path to fighting the virus.
In an interview with the British Financial Times and the American television channel CNBC, the chief Swedish epidemiologist Anders Tegnell once again defended Sweden’s tactics to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Sweden, unlike many other European countries, did not impose strict quarantine or massively stop the work of enterprises.
The Swedish authorities preferred not a prohibitive, but a recommendatory approach, advising people not to crowd, to carefully observe personal hygiene; special protective measures were introduced for people under the risk, mainly the elderly.
To date, Sweden with a population of 10 million people officially recorded 23.9 thousand cases of infection and 2941 deaths from coronavirus, of which about half occurred in nursing homes. In neighboring Finland with a population of 5.5 million people, 5.6 thousand infections and 255 deaths were recorded. In Norway, with 5,4 million people – 8 thousand cases of infection and 217 deaths, in Denmark with 5.8 million people – 10,2 thousand cases of infection and 514 deaths.
Despite the fact that in neighboring countries that have introduced tougher measures while lower rates of cases of illness and deaths are observed, Anders Tagnell considers the Swedish tactics to be more correct in the long run. “In the fall there will be a second wave. In Sweden, by that time there will be a higher level of immunity and the number of infections will most likely be low,” the Swedish doctor told the FT.
According to Mr. Tegnell, it will take one or two years to understand whose strategy to combat the virus has been more successful in the end.
He believes that Sweden’s approach focuses on a “broader view of public health,” where the important point is that “people should be able to reasonably continue their normal lives.”
The chief Swedish epidemiologist insists that “there is no scientific justification for the benefits of hard quarantines,” in particular the closure of schools, as there is no clear evidence that children are carriers of the infection. According to him, many European leaders began to copy Chinese methods, fearing that the infection would put an undue strain on their health systems. In Sweden, according to the doctor, the number of hospitalizations is already « obviously falling », as well as the number of deaths.
Mr. Tegnell expressed great regret at the deaths in his country. However, he is not sure that all these cases could have been avoided, especially with older people.
“We know that in such cases there are much greater risks. But we are not sure that if we behaved differently, the situation would also have developed differently, ”the chief Swedish epidemiologist noted.