Left Menu
Development News Edition

Sweden should have done more to combat coronavirus, health chief says

Reuters | Updated: 03-06-2020 16:42 IST | Created: 03-06-2020 16:42 IST
Sweden should have done more to combat coronavirus, health chief says

Sweden should have done more to combat the coronavirus, the epidemiologist behind a national strategy that avoided the strict lockdowns seen in many other countries said on Wednesday.

Anders Tegnell's comments followed mounting criticism of the government's handling of the crisis and a policy that has relied largely on voluntary action, social distancing and common-sense hygiene advice but has failed to prevent the virus spreading. Sweden has a lower COVID-19 mortality rate than European countries such as Britain, Spain and Italy which enforced stringent lockdowns.

But, with 443 deaths per million people, it has the eighth highest number of coronavirus-related deaths per capita in the world, and had the highest COVID-19 mortality rate in Europe for parts of May, according to research group Ourworldindata.org. "Yes, I think we could have done better in what we did in Sweden, clearly," Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, told Swedish radio.

"If we were to run into the same disease, knowing exactly what we know about it today, I think we would end up doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done," he said. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who has promised an enquiry into the handling of the pandemic, did not immediately respond to a request for comment but Health and Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren hit back.

"The government has been, at all times, prepared to introduce wider, further measures recommended by the expert authority," Hallengren said in a written response to Reuters. Lofven told the Aftonbladet daily that the overall strategy of limiting the disease while also protecting workers and companies had been the right one.

"At the same time, we have to admit that when it comes to elderly care and the spread of infection, that has not worked. That is obvious," he said. "Too many old people have died here." Most of Europe shut schools, shops and businesses, bringing much of society to a halt. Sweden closed care homes to visitors in late March, but around half its coronavirus-related deaths have been among elderly people living in care facilities.

"CATASTROPHIC" Recent antibody-tests have also indicated the number of infected people in Sweden is fewer than in the Public Health Agency's models and that so-called herd immunity could be further off than predicted.

Tegnell said it was hard to know which measures taken elsewhere might have been the most effective in Sweden. "Maybe we will find this out now that people have started removing measures, one at a time," he said. "And then maybe we will get some kind of information on what, in addition to what we did, we could do without adopting a total lockdown."

The government has received criticism for failing to reach the target of 100,000 tests per week, hitting only a third of that last week. Bjorn Olsen, Professor of Infectious Medicine at Uppsala University, said Sweden's strategy had been catastrophic.

"This is one of Sweden's biggest embarrassments and most tragic events, (in) all categories," he said, calling for a change of course to start testing and do more contact tracing. "As long as people are dying, we must try to change."


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Why COVID-19 is unstoppable in USA despite it being ranked at the top of GHS Index?

Several worst-hit countries such as Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Canada, and Russia have peaked COVID-19 cases in April. Almost all of them have gradually flattened the curve. However, the USA is setting new daily records of infections tha...

COVID-19 seems cooking biggest ever global scam

The increasing number of corruption cases on COVID-19 funds from throughout the world and involvement of high profile persons indicate that the countries cant ignore corruption in their pandemic response programs. This has generated the nee...

Health Management Information Systems lack holistic, integrated, and pandemic resilient character

Being a part of the United Nations system, the World Health Organization WHO deserves its share of rebuke for its alleged failure issue COVID-19 health emergency alerts on appropriate time. However, the pandemic has also exposed loopholes i...

Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...

Videos

Latest News

Australia expands wage subsidy scheme as COVID-19 cases surge

The Australian government is injecting a further A1.5 billion 1.1 billion into a wage subsidy programme to counter rising unemployment as the country posted the biggest rise in coronavirus cases since early April.Australian officials report...

An Earthquake of 4.5 magnitude earthquake hits Gujarat's Rajkot

An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter scale hit Rajkot in Gujarat on Thursday morning, informed the National Center for Seismology NCS.As per NCS, the tremors were felt at 0740 am today. ANI...

Health News Roundup: EU urges more flu vaccinations; Moderna Phase 1 results of coronavirus vaccine and more

Following is a summary of current health news briefs.UN warns of dangerous drop in vaccinations during COVID pandemicLevels of childhood immunizations against dangerous diseases such as measles, tetanus and diphtheria have dropped alarmingl...

23 AGs sue DeVos over student loan forgiveness policy

Democratic attorneys general in more than 20 states sued Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday, seeking to repeal her overhaul of a student loan forgiveness programme. Congress voted to strike down her policy, which makes it more dif...

Give Feedback