Sweden’s Controversial Covid-19 Strategy
Sweden never imposed a strict lockdown to combat Covid-19, unlike most other countries. The only official rules put in place are a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more and a ban on visitors to nursing homes.
The nation’s Chief Epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, MD, PhD, says Sweden’s strategy is based on the assumption that Covid-19 isn’t going away any time soon, and that severe lockdowns can’t be maintained for very long and will prove to be ineffective over the long run. Strict lockdowns may temporarily contain the virus, but won’t prevent it from returning, according to Tegnell.
In an interview with Swedish Public Radio on June 24, Tegnell said that Sweden has followed the “classic pandemic model” that he had been discussing with international colleagues for 20 years. Tegnell characterized lockdowns as flying in the face of what is known about handling viral outbreaks. “It was as if the world had gone mad, and everything we had discussed was forgotten….The cases became too many and the political pressure got too strong. And then Sweden stood there rather alone.”
Sweden, which has a population of 10.1 million, has recorded 65,137 cases, 2,407 intensive care admissions and 5,268 deaths from Covid-19 as of June 25, according to the Public Health Agency for Sweden. More than half of the Covid-19 deaths in Sweden have occurred among its nursing home residents.
Covid-19 deaths in Sweden are much higher per capita than its nearest neighbors (Finland, Norway and Denmark), which had strict lockdowns. However, its per capita death rate is lower than some other European countries that had strict lockdowns, such as Belgium, Britain, Spain and Italy.