According to Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, the country, which has seen fewer cases in recent weeks, is going against the global trend of rising infections that may lead to a second wave of infections.
As the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 16 million globally, the number of infections is accelerating, and several European nations have voiced fears of a second wave of infections.
Sweden, however, appears to be going in a different direction. In the last 14 days, merely 7 deaths per day were recorded – the lowest number since March 23. Fewer people are seriously ill, the number of intensive care admissions is close to zero per day, and the death rate is declining.
“As for the number of deaths per day, we are down to individual people per day”, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said, as quoted by the newspaper Aftonbladet.
At the same time, Sweden’s Public Health Agency voiced concern about the clear increase of infections around Europe, following a protracted drop lasting several weeks. Among others, Spain and Germany have been hit by increases.
“We thought it would happen only in the autumn”, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said. “But in Sweden we do not see that trend”.
Tegnell suggested that despite the recent global spike, international travel by Swedes won’t pose extra risks.
“Our assessment is that there are few people who theoretically would come home with something, given that the infection is very regional in many of these countries. Our assessment is that the risks are not very high”, Tegnell said. “The most common place for the spread of infection is the home, followed by the workplace”, he added.
The Swedish Public Health Agency has developed three different scenarios, the most likely being regional clusters, rather than an overall second wave.
“We have been tightening the recommendations all the time and will continue to tighten them. Now until autumn, it is time to sit still in the boat”, Anders Tegnell said.
Björn Olsen, chief physician and professor of infectious diseases at Uppsala University has consistently slammed the Swedish strategy for the high number of premature deaths that could have been avoided, he argued, with the necessary precautions.
Olsen also blamed the “compliant media”, which according to him didn’t dare to question the strategy and its “tunnel vision”.
“Sectarianism is dangerous and many media have been loyal proselytes in the sect around the Swedish strategy”, Olsen told national broadcaster SVT. “This combination of overconfidence from an authority together with a submissive media, is a deadly cocktail”.
Globally, about 16.4 million confirmed cases and over 650,000 deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded. About 1.7 million of these are in Europe, where at least 182,000 deaths have occurred. In Sweden, at least 79,500 cases have been confirmed, with over 5,700 deaths, most of them senior citizens.