Corona Virus: Sweden recognizes the failure of its strategy to contain the epidemic

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Swedish epidemiologist Anders Tijnell has admitted that Sweden’s controversial decision not to impose strict closure measures to counter the Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in deaths.

Sweden recorded a significantly higher mortality rate compared to its closest neighboring countries, as well as the prohibition of its citizens crossing the border.

Tignel, owner of the country’s Coruna confrontation strategy, told Swedish radio that more should have been done early.

He added, “There appears to be a possibility to improve what we did.”

Sweden recorded 4,542 deaths and 40,803 injuries out of its total population of 10 million, while Denmark, Norway and Finland imposed closure measures and recorded significantly lower death rates.

Denmark recorded 580 deaths, while Norway recorded 237 deaths, Finland 321 deaths, and Sweden announced on Wednesday it recorded 74 new deaths.

How did Tignel change his view?

Last April, Tignnel told the BBC that the increasing number of deaths was mainly due to the inability of homes for the elderly to fight the disease.

He said now to Swedish public radio: “If we faced this disease and we knew then everything we know now, I think we would have taken a middle position between Sweden’s current strategy and what the rest of the world did.”

Asked if many citizens had died too early, Tignnel said, “of course yes.”

However, it was not clear about what Sweden should have done differently, and at a press conference later on Wednesday, he stressed that “we still believe this was the right strategy for Sweden.”

He said that while Sweden has taken a step-by-step approach, other countries have imposed immediate closures and gradually reopened them.

He warned that it was too early to say whether the closure measures had worked or not.

He said: “We learned during the past three or four months that this disease has a very high ability to start spreading again.”

How did Sweden respond?

Although no closing measures were applied, Sweden relied on voluntary social estrangement, banning the gathering of more than 50 people, and preventing visits to nursing homes.

How far the country recommends against unnecessary travel according to national guidelines, but up to two hours trips are allowed to see relatives or close friends as long as it does not involve visiting local stores or mixing with others.

As Denmark and Norway begin the process of returning activities again, there has been increasing criticism of Sweden’s response, internally or by neighboring countries.

Norway’s Director of Public Health, Freud Forland, said that Sweden has placed a lot of emphasis on historical models of viruses, while neighboring countries have preferred the implementation of closure measures.

Anika Linde, a former government epidemiologist, believes that Sweden has made a mistake in response measures, and should have focused on three things:

  • Early closure.
  • Provide greater protection for care homes.
  • Extensive testing and contact tracking in outbreak areas.

Swedish media say Thignell and his family were exposed to threats last month through emails.

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