Anders Tegnell admits that there was “potential for improvement” in the way Sweden fought against the coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s chief epidemiologist and planner of the light-touch countermeasures against the pandemic has expressed his observation that Sweden registered too many deaths from Covid-19 and should have done more to prevent spreading the virus among its population.
Anders Tegnell, who was previously not so fond of other countries’ restrictions and considered them unsustainable in the long run, stated on Swedish Radio that there was “quite obviously a potential for improvement” in what they have done.
When asked if too many people from Sweden had died, he said: “Yes, absolutely,” also mentioning that Sweden would “have to consider in the future whether there was a way of preventing” such a shocking number of deaths.
The death rate per capita in Sweden was the highest in the world over the past week.
The government has analyzed the situation and promised to set up a commission to analyze and improve its Covid-19 strategy.
“If we were to reencounter the same disease knowing exactly what we know about it today, I think we would settle on doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” Tegnell stated.
He also mentioned that it would be good to know precisely how to act to flatten the curb to spread more effectively.
In an interview with Dagens Nyheter daily, he claimed that he still believes that the “basic strategy” has worked well, and he sees no possible way of acting differently under the same circumstances and having access to the same knowledge they had back when he put together the strategy.
The online publication Ourworldindata.com shows that the number of Covid-19 deaths per capita in Sweden reached 5.29 deaths per million inhabitants a day compared to the UK’s 4.48.
Stefan Löfven, Sweden’s prime minister, told the Aftonbladet daily that the country’s overall approach to the situation was right. Still, it did not manage to cover care homes where about half of the COVID-19 related deaths in Sweden have occurred.
Lena Hallengren, social affairs minister, told Reuters that the authorities had been “at all times” ready to apply broader, more drastic measures recommended by the expert authority.
Sweden mostly relied on the citizens’ sense of civic responsibility, closed schools for all over-16s, and interdicted gatherings of more than 50 people. However, the country’s officials only asked (instead of ordering) people to avoid traveling for non-essential reasons. They also advised ill or elderly citizens not to go out at all.
Unlike other countries, Sweden kept its restaurants, shops, and gyms open.
Though the public opinion of Swedes appears to be shifting, people were generally happy with the country’s strategy of fighting the pandemic.
Tegnell explained how the authorities’ goals wasn’t achieving herd immunity, but instead slowing down the spread of the virus just enough for health services to cope. That decision was recently put under a big question mark by a lot of people as the overall death toll began rising over time.
Sweden registered a total of 4,468 as of last week.
Both Denmark and Norway officials announced that the countries will be dropping mutual border controls, but would also exclude Sweden from the so-called “Nordic travel bubble” because of its higher coronavirus infection rate.
It’s not yet clear how the country will adapt to current situations, but one thing is sure. The government has acknowledged the gravity of the situation and has started planning accordingly.