in Sweden, no containment but an “amplification of the epidemic”

Sweden is one of the few countries that has chosen not to limit its population to stop the spread of the coronavirus. And in retrospect, the number of deaths per million is ultimately much higher in Sweden than among its northern neighbors. Many specialists therefore believe that the Swedish method is a failure.

While many countries around the world have abolished containment measures against the spread of Covid-19 in recent weeks, Sweden stands out. Indeed, it had never introduced such measures, and this since the beginning of the epidemic. This crisis management is currently handled by several Swedish specialists, who point to many dysfunctions.

While billions of limited people around the world were stuck at the end of March, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms and even elementary and high schools remained open in Sweden.

However, with some exceptions, colleges and museums have been closed, sports meetings canceled and gatherings of more than 50 people banned. Swedes over 70 years of age or in fragile condition were invited to stay at home.

>> Read also: Coronavirus: Sweden, the European exception to containment

Respect for the physical distance rules was also required in public places. Last Thursday, the government also asked the Swedes to avoid unnecessary international travel and to limit their travel by car to two hours, inland.

But even these obligations – minimal compared to the norm in many other countries – have not been strictly implemented. The police cannot impose fines for non-compliance with physical distance measures but simply request to comply.

“Inaccessible” to Covid-19

In the USA, the Swedish method has won and received praise from figures on the right. For example, Tucker Carlson, presenter on the US channel Fox News, raised the method to rank as a model for the United States.

By arguing for its unconventional policies, Stockholm highlights the high level of confidence in Swedish society and argues that people can be expected to take precautionary measures without being forced to do so. to do.

A vision that does not share Elisabeth Asbrink, Swedish writer and freelance journalist known for her critical position vis-à-vis the country’s strategy. “There are people who are really hardworking and who do exactly what they have to do, but there are also too many who do not,” she said.

In some parts of Stockholm “people do everything they usually do as if there is no need to keep a distance,” she said. “I also went to Malmö [troisième ville suédoise] and many out there somehow think they can’t die. They think they are vulnerable to this disease. “

According to Statista data analysis site, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Sweden has increased steadily since the beginning of April. The country has now passed 30,000 pollution labels.

More deaths per million than in the US

Statistics show that Sweden has fared poorly compared to its Scandinavian neighbors who have placed strict containment on their people. The Nordic countries are really the most relevant for comparison with Sweden, as their health systems are similar to their social and political cultures.

According to the British daily The Financial Times, 367.5 coronavirus deaths per million people. This is more than in the US, a country hit hard by the virus, where there are 266.1 deaths per million inhabitants.

Nicolas Nassim Taleb, professor of risk engineering at New York University, author of the book on probability and uncertainty “The Black Swan”, tweeted: “Stop the bullshit. Sweden was HORRIBLE compared to Norway, Denmark and Finland”.

>> Read also: Covid-19: in Europe application tracking develops despite disagreements and controversies

Many Swedish specialists have also opposed the government’s strategy for dealing with the pandemic. Twenty-two doctors and researchers asked for a method change via a forum published in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter on April 14. “The method needs to change radically and quickly,” they claim. “As the virus spreads, we must strengthen physical distance. Political leaders must intervene. There is no alternative.”

The problem of nursing homes

As in many countries, retirees are a source of great anxiety. Although visits were banned on March 31, half of the over 70s who died from the Covid-19 suites lived in nursing homes, according to figures released in late April. The staff at these facilities had also complained about the lack of protective equipment.

“They don’t have time to take care of my mother,” complained to AFP, a Stockholm resident who said she died as a result of neglect in an old age home, where more than a third of its residents have died from the virus.

>> Also read: Covid-19: European tour of deconfinement

“There are things that can be done and should be done that would dramatically change the situation,” said Swedish virologist Lena Einhorn. If Sweden had begun “an extensive campaign of tests specifically aimed at elderly care”, she continues, the authorities would have been able to “know who is infected and now, thanks to serological tests, infected”.

For Lena Einhorn, two other policies could have made the difference without requiring strict containment. “If Sweden had introduced a 14-day quarantine for all members of a household with a Covid-19 patient, we would not have seen this result.” On the other hand, if the country “closes restaurants, it would be less likely to transmit the virus with aerosol (air transfer)”, she confirms.

Collective immunity is considered “relevant”

The Swedish government has declared that its policy is effectively decided by scientific officials such as the epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who has become a well-known and popular figure in the country since the pandemic began.

But Elisabeth Asbrink believes that this works negatively on the political debate in Sweden. “The decisions they make are obviously political – they make choices. I think it is a problem that Swedish politicians have not had any visible responsibility in this strategy, as is the case in other Nordic countries.”

The goal of the country’s strategy has been the subject of much debate. “We have no collective immunity strategy” (which occurs when a large proportion of a population suffers from a disease and therefore immunizes), insured in early May to France 24 Ann Linde, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. “We don’t want to stop all transfers. We want to put out the curve,” he continued.

Statements that leave Lena Eirhorn confused. “They do not recognize it, but with a low voice they approve”, according to her, this collective immunity strategy. Anders Tegnell in an interview with the newspaper Aftonbladet in March had also said that collective immunity “probably becomes more and more relevant because we know about this virus”.

Article adapted from the original in English by Tiffany Fillon.