When neighboring countries Denmark and Norway decided to impose a lockdown, Sweden’s strategy was aimed at building a broad-base of immunity while at the same time protecting at-risk groups. Now, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist Dr. Anders Tegnell says the “herd immunity” may be reached in the capital within weeks.” So, Sweden’s corona immunity strategy seems to be successful.
Recently, Anders Tegnell, the architect behind Sweden’s relatively relaxed response to Covid-19, told local media that the latest figures on infection rates and fatalities indicate the situation is starting to stabilize. People in neighboring countries Denmark and Norway shook their heads in disbelief at Sweden’s approach while the country’s inhabitants greatly supported the country’s corona experts.
A controversial strategy
Some health experts in other countries claimed that Sweden’s controversial strategy could be associated with playing Russian roulette with public health. But now, the unusual approach is starting to yield results. “We’re on a sort of plateau,” Tegnell told Swedish news agency TT.
When Sweden launched the strategy, the Lancet medical journal, perhaps the world’s most recognized research journal, reported growing anger in the Swedish population towards their leaders who had not provided enough testing and personal protecting equipment, or respirators for hospitals where their capacity had been overwhelmed.
“In major parts of Sweden, around Stockholm, we have reached a plateau (in new cases) and we’re already seeing the effect of herd immunity and in a few weeks’ time we’ll see even more of the effects of that. And in the rest of the country, the situation is stable,” Tegnell told CNBC Television last week.
Related: Coronavirus in Sweden: Business as Usual
Swedish public is supporting the strategy
Sweden left its schools, gyms, cafes, bars and restaurants open throughout the spread of the pandemic. However, the government urged citizens to act responsibly and follow social distancing guidelines. A new opinion poll from the Swedish organization Vetenskap & Allmennhet (Public and Science) states that an overwhelming majority of 91 per cent supported the strategy and had confidence in doctors and hospital staff. Eighty-seven per cent of those surveyed had a high level of confidence in researchers who comment on the coronavirus crisis in the media.
Tegnell said sampling and modeling data indicated that 20% of Stockholm’s population is already immune to the virus, and that “in a few weeks’ time we might reach herd immunity and we believe that is why we’re seeing a slow decline in cases, in spite of sampling (testing for the coronavirus) more and more.”
However, even experts in Sweden say it’s too early to draw conclusions, but given the huge economic damage caused by strict lockdowns, the Swedish approach has drawn considerable interest around the world.
Related: Coronavirus: What It Means For Your Visit To Scandinavia – Or Elsewhere
Researcher on politicians and medical authorities
“When a country is exposed to a threat, as you could call the coronavirus, then politicians have an urge to show that they can handle the situation. That may be in spite of whatever the experts say,” says Swedish media researcher Marina Ghersetti. In this case, Swedish politicians clearly differ from their Scandinavian counterparts.
Tegnell says he is still very concerned about the elderly. “The death toll is very closely related to elderly care homes. More than half of the people that have died have lived in elderly care homes,” he says.
At no stage of the pandemic 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. Part of Sweden’s approach has relied on having access to one of the world’s best-functioning health-care systems.
Sweden’s Corona Immunity Strategy Seems To Be Successful
Even if most of the Swedish press largely has supported the public health agency’s strategy, there has been voiced a demand for stronger political leadership. The most visible source is the editor of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Peter Wolodarski.
“We don’t have a radically different view,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in an interview with Radio Sweden. “The government has made a series of decisions that affect the whole society. It’s a myth that life goes on as normal in Sweden.”
Sweden’s Corona Immunity Strategy Seems To Be Successful, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top): Metro, Stockholm Nick Walker/Pixabay